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SoulTracks.com

 

Taking It There, the new EP by soul singer Tamika Nicole, has the feel of an audio resume. The record features six songs – two covers as well as fully produced and acoustic arrangements of two originals. Perhaps Nicole wants listeners who either do not recall or did not purchase her 2009 album, The Art of Letting Go, to realize or remember that she can cover all of the musical bases.

If you prefer an artist who can add a little gravel to her voice and belt out a rock number, then listen to Nicole tear into a rocking version of “Come Together.” Where The Beatles’ original has a percussion and bass driven sound, Nicole roars in with her power packed vocals augmented by slashing electric guitars. Want a singer totally comfortable with merging the church house and the road house, then check out Nicole’s cover of “Stormy Monday.” The artist plays it straight in giving us a familiar rendition of the T-Bone Walker classic. Her sole accompaniment is a gospel-informed piano, and Nicole showcases her zero to sixty emotional and vocal range on this track.

SoulTrackers first heard the Nicole original “Next To Me” when the tune was Song of the Month in June 2014, and here Nicole lends her rangy voice to a funky mid-tempo number that finds her lamenting a relationship that is addictive in the sense that it’s bad for her spiritually even as it fills some deep physical and emotional need. Nicole remains in that thematic vein while once again stretching her rock vocals on “Don’t Say,” a cut on which she expresses frustration at a lover who seems to be balking at exploring the full possibilities of a relationship after taking her beyond the midway point. “Don’t say it’s me not you/I felt your heart beat too,” she implores in the song’s hook.

But then, as if to further solidify the diversity as a vocalist, Nicole includes acoustic versions of both originals. Both are good, but the soulful and jazzy piano and voice version of “Next To Me” is especially pleasing. Nicole drops the intensity level of her powerful instrument, allowing the voice to have a conversation with the piano and giving listeners a chance to hear the words.

It’s been seven years since most music fans last heard from Tamika Nicole. That’s the definition of an eternity in the music business, and it’s easy to see why Nicole might have found it necessary to use this EP to remind music fans what she can do and what she brings to the table. The answer to both questions is a lot. Recommended.

By Howard Duke

Taking It There, the new EP by soul singer Tamika Nicole, has the feel of an audio resume. The record features six songs – two covers as well as fully produced and acoustic arrangements of two originals. Perhaps Nicole wants listeners who either do not recall or did not purchase her 2009 album, The Art of Letting Go, to realize or remember that she can cover all of the musical bases.

If you prefer an artist who can add a little gravel to her voice and belt out a rock number, then listen to Nicole tear into a rocking version of “Come Together.” Where The Beatles’ original has a percussion and bass driven sound, Nicole roars in with her power packed vocals augmented by slashing electric guitars. Want a singer totally comfortable with merging the church house and the road house, then check out Nicole’s cover of “Stormy Monday.” The artist plays it straight in giving us a familiar rendition of the T-Bone Walker classic. Her sole accompaniment is a gospel-informed piano, and Nicole showcases her zero to sixty emotional and vocal range on this track.

SoulTrackers first heard the Nicole original “Next To Me” when the tune was Song of the Month in June 2014, and here Nicole lends her rangy voice to a funky mid-tempo number that finds her lamenting a relationship that is addictive in the sense that it’s bad for her spiritually even as it fills some deep physical and emotional need. Nicole remains in that thematic vein while once again stretching her rock vocals on “Don’t Say,” a cut on which she expresses frustration at a lover who seems to be balking at exploring the full possibilities of a relationship after taking her beyond the midway point. “Don’t say it’s me not you/I felt your heart beat too,” she implores in the song’s hook.

But then, as if to further solidify the diversity as a vocalist, Nicole includes acoustic versions of both originals. Both are good, but the soulful and jazzy piano and voice version of “Next To Me” is especially pleasing. Nicole drops the intensity level of her powerful instrument, allowing the voice to have a conversation with the piano and giving listeners a chance to hear the words.

It’s been seven years since most music fans last heard from Tamika Nicole. That’s the definition of an eternity in the music business, and it’s easy to see why Nicole might have found it necessary to use this EP to remind music fans what she can do and what she brings to the table. The answer to both questions is a lot. Recommended.

By Howard Duke

- See more at: http://www.soultracks.com/review-tamika-nicole-taking-it-there#sthash.OJVszX98.dpuf

Taking It There, the new EP by soul singer Tamika Nicole, has the feel of an audio resume. The record features six songs – two covers as well as fully produced and acoustic arrangements of two originals. Perhaps Nicole wants listeners who either do not recall or did not purchase her 2009 album, The Art of Letting Go, to realize or remember that she can cover all of the musical bases.

If you prefer an artist who can add a little gravel to her voice and belt out a rock number, then listen to Nicole tear into a rocking version of “Come Together.” Where The Beatles’ original has a percussion and bass driven sound, Nicole roars in with her power packed vocals augmented by slashing electric guitars. Want a singer totally comfortable with merging the church house and the road house, then check out Nicole’s cover of “Stormy Monday.” The artist plays it straight in giving us a familiar rendition of the T-Bone Walker classic. Her sole accompaniment is a gospel-informed piano, and Nicole showcases her zero to sixty emotional and vocal range on this track.

SoulTrackers first heard the Nicole original “Next To Me” when the tune was Song of the Month in June 2014, and here Nicole lends her rangy voice to a funky mid-tempo number that finds her lamenting a relationship that is addictive in the sense that it’s bad for her spiritually even as it fills some deep physical and emotional need. Nicole remains in that thematic vein while once again stretching her rock vocals on “Don’t Say,” a cut on which she expresses frustration at a lover who seems to be balking at exploring the full possibilities of a relationship after taking her beyond the midway point. “Don’t say it’s me not you/I felt your heart beat too,” she implores in the song’s hook.

But then, as if to further solidify the diversity as a vocalist, Nicole includes acoustic versions of both originals. Both are good, but the soulful and jazzy piano and voice version of “Next To Me” is especially pleasing. Nicole drops the intensity level of her powerful instrument, allowing the voice to have a conversation with the piano and giving listeners a chance to hear the words.

It’s been seven years since most music fans last heard from Tamika Nicole. That’s the definition of an eternity in the music business, and it’s easy to see why Nicole might have found it necessary to use this EP to remind music fans what she can do and what she brings to the table. The answer to both questions is a lot. Recommended.

By Howard Duke

- See more at: http://www.soultracks.com/review-tamika-nicole-taking-it-there#sthash.OJVszX98.dpuf

Prazehymn Online

Once again proving there’s something mighty nice about the Bay Area water, Oakland native Tamika Nicole comes out swinging on her masterful independent projects by using the same gusto of Ledisi, Mary J. Blige and Sarah Vaughn. Though she’s still a young newcomer, she comes to the forefront with a resume’ filled with experience and life lessons on The Art of Letting Go - her sophomore independent release. It’s a modern record, infiltrated with the neo-soul movements of India.Aire and the jazzy Quiet Storm sensations of contemporary R&B, but with an amazing epic story. Each song serves up doses of life inspiration through depression, relationships and insecurity that works as easily as any urban gospel record. The singer/songwriter collaborates with R&B/gospel producer Jamie Hawkins (Sunny Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins, Destiny’s Child) and Jimi Fischer to get the right polished studio sound for the album’s jazz-influenced tunes.

The most obvious advantange of The Art of Letting Go abides in how each song points to a variety of remedies that justifies the strong album title. “Down,” using urban funk and hard rubber bass, offers up encouragement on how to get out of life’s setbacks and frustrations. “Only (You Ain’t Right)” is a woman-to-woman life lesson on breaking away from losers with the help of God. But the album seriously rises to higher heights when the songs match up with even stronger melodies and deeper lyricism, like on the Anita Baker/Michael J. Powell-styled “Enough” and the synth funk-infused “All I Need,” “Enough” is a touching prayer that certainly touches the windows of heaven as she asks God to help her “know that I am enough and always loved.” The dazzling saxophone solo effortlessly works the song into a smooth song of praise. “Get It Right,” with its smart synths, is so ready for radio with its empowering message towards moral maturity. Consider it a brighter version of Faze-O’s “Riding High.” And for serious funk jazz connoisseurs, they will get a kick out of the mellow lounge grooves of “Too Bad for You,” which serves as the ultimate “dump ‘em” anthem. After seeing too many urban movies like Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” where women have a hard time resisting no-good leftovers, this song comes off sounding like a modern parable with lots of 'sistah' attitude.

There are a few spotty areas including the bonus remix of “Get It Right,” which sounds extremely identical to the original. If only if there was a version featuring full acoustic and rhythm play without the a capella pauses on the verses. “Can’t Walk Away” finds Nicole facing rock. Musically, the song isn't radically edgy but her voice isn't fierce enough for this kind of party. And “Tryna Maintain,” with its computer-galactic sounds and grooveless beats, isn’t the perfect opener for such a moderately spotless project. It’s usually best to put the better material in the very front of a project.

But Nicole dazzles and impresses more than anything on Letting Go. Most of the songs are primed with believable instrumentation and work easily on Nicole’s confident vocals. And since the album serves as a half-gospel, half-mainstream celebration, the experimentation with musical styles and the strong lyrics both work as welcoming additions to those in need of unshakable discipline. Since the album sounds almost like a quick tutorial to life’s challenges, you can expect young ladies to gain inspiration from Nicole’s brand of urban devotionals.

SoulInterviews.com

SoulInterviews.com***June 1, 2009 Blues, a vital element in music history and one of soul music’s foundations, has been missing from today’s R&B and soul music for well over a decade now. While most artists have seemingly forgotten the genre, there are some that have successfully incorporated blues into their sound with very positive results. Enter Tamika Nicole. Nicole, a Bay Area native and Oakland, Calif. product, brings a heavy blues influence to her sound that also is fused with funk, jazz, gospel, and rock stylings. Nicole’s sophomore CD, “The Art of Letting Go”, takes you back to the 80’s, when live music recording still ruled the day. Produced by Jamie Hawkins and Jimi Fischer, the album has a continuity that flows effortlessly with each song and conveys a growth in Nicole as both a singer and songwriter. “This album was about trying to share my experiences and observations of the world and the struggles which I was experiencing at that point in my life,” Nicole says. “I really wanted people to know that you can go through things in life and still remain hopeful. ” Nicole brings heartfelt positivity to her lyrics, and you can’t help but to be taken in by her words. The meshing of lyrics, vocals, music and feel gives the album a distinct 80’s sound, but one that’s still contemporary. One could easily mistake “The Art of Letting Go” for being made in 1985 rather than now. The lyrics Nicole sings are easily conveyed through her melodies, as she makes you feel what she’s feeling with each song. “I tend to write from a very honest place…I don’t know how to do it any other way,” Nicole says. “In my songs, I may be going through it but I never lose hope. Ultimately, I think God can bring a person through anything, and I guess those ideas reflect themselves in my songwriting.” All of the songs are choice on the album, and each one takes you different places and gives you a positive message. But it’s the music that takes “The Art of Letting Go” from a mere neosoul album to a place where only real soul resides. The standout tracks include “Tryna Maintain”, “Get It Right”, and Can’t Walk Away”. Gabriel Rich for Soulinterviews.com

SoulChoonz.com

SoulChoonz.com**May 22, 2009

A fresh new name for 2009 and a CD that will be one that will be on your wants list. Of that I have no doubt. This Lady has an amazing vocal and along with producer Jamie Hawkins - an underground hero - offer us a CD of scintillating soulful, funky and sassy female soul music. It is sexy, seductive, edgy and smooth with a roughness. What is achieved here is the sass and fire of a strong woman without the juvenile swagger and bravado that marks apart the REAL soul songstress from the dearth of contemporary teen ladettes who think they are 'telling it like it is'. Far from it. The album of the CD says it all. Here is a Lady who has experienced life - and is savvy and mature enough to acknowledge, accept, deal and...let go. Artists like this beg our attention. Tracks such as "Down" are tough, constrained by a funky moog, a purposeful strident beat and rough edge. No need for a guest rapper, no posturing, but a gritty, real performance and a musical bouquet akin to Tuomo in a pensive mood. Excellent.

Contrast this to the slinkier, more smooth and jazzy "Enough". The chilled atmosphere, the sax and a soaring, lighter approach define Tamika as a singer who can turn her vocal abilities to any form of groove. The strings add sweetness and her vocalising is natural and not stepped such as Mary J. Blige, and I hear echoes of Jean Carn in her phrasing if not in pitch and tone. The inspirational cut "All I Need" is excellent - the tune is very more-ish, and a real hilight of the CD. We even get jazzier and bluesier with "Too Bad For You" and "So Much More" - this really highlights the exceptionally wide spectrum of style and ability this Lady can ply herself to. How many of the young R&B squeakers could even scratch this Lady's talent??? The CD benefits from 2 remixes - one being superb! "Get It Right" is excellent and very addictive, and it's also very warming to see her 2001 cut "Chocolate Caramel Brown" included. Like a Cameo groove with Chaka Khan dropping by for good measure, this is a choooon! Well worth checking out on CD Baby!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

SoulTracks

SoulTracks.com***May 20, 2009

Tamika Nicole-The Art of Letting Go It wouldn't be wrong to call The Art of Letting Go, Tamika Nicole's new CD, a gospel record. That description wouldn't be 100 percent accurate either. It might be better to describe The Art of Letting Go as an inspirational album. Don't get it wrong, Nicole isn't shy about professing her faith, nor does she hesitate to talk about the strongholds that make maintaining her faith a struggle -- such as cash flow problems and self-doubt that Nicole depicts in "Tryna Maintain," the funky, gritty and ultra-modern opening track. In "Only (You Ain't Right)," Nicole sings of her determination to immerse herself in God's word in order to extricate herself from a negative relationship. We learn that the negative relationship that Nicole is trying to break away from is with Satan. However, inspired songwriting leads me to believe that the vocalist could also be talking about dysfunctional relationships with lovers, friends and family. "How come I let you lead me/Why do I let you see me/Why do I do the things I do/I know that I'm not perfect/And I know that you're not worth it/Although you say that you are true." Those words could come from a sermon, or they could be the musings of a person trying to summon the will to break free from an addictive relationship. If "Only (You Ain't Right)" sounds like the lament of a woman trying to break free from Satan (or some devil here on earth), "Enough," the next tune, sounds like an prayer to Christ - or a request to an earthly angel - for direction and affirmation. The fact that most of the songs on this album can work as gospel songs without being preachy, and as secular tunes without being too "worldly" shows how effective Nicole is as a songwriter. I say "most" because several songs on The Art of Letting Go are definitely secular songs. One is the mid-tempo inspirational song "Get It Right," on which Nicole exhorts parents, children, men and women to treat each other with love and respect. Nicole's positive call to action makes "Get It Right" the perfect uplifting anthem for times. Then there is the funky grinder "Chocolate Caramel Brown," an urban radio ready jam in which Nicole gives her black a big musical kiss. Next is "Can't Walk Away," a rock infused declaration of independence and persistence. With The Art of Letting Go, Nicole has pulled off a rare feat. She managed to craft a record that will have the church folks and the Christmas-and- Easter-only crowd tapping feet and nodding heads at the cookout. Highly recommended. By Howard Dukes

The Oakland Post

Tamika Nicole Lets Go With Gospel, Soul and Blues on New CD April 30, 2009 By Lee Hildebrand “I know you ain’t right. I gotta constantly fight to keep you outta my life,” Tamika Williams-Clark sings in pain-soaked alto tones on “Only (You Ain’t Right),” a tune from “The Art of Letting Go,” her just-released second CD. Upon first hearing, one would think that the Oakland-born, San Leandro-based vocalist, known professionally as Tamika Nicole, is singing about a no-good man, but closer listening reveals it’s about her ongoing battle with something far more sinister. “I’m talking about the devil,” she explains. “It’s about that relationship a lot of Christian people have, myself included, whereas you want to do the right thing, but you just can’t seem to get it right. I aim to be stronger and know that I need to be better if I’m with God.” “Only (It Ain’t Right)” is one of several religious songs on the disc, which also includes tunes about romance and other earthly matters, even a blues. Tamika wrote all 10 tunes herself, in collaboration with producers Jimi Fischer and Jamie Hawkins. Unlike Jennifer Hudson and other secular artists who sometimes place one gospel song at the end of their albums, Tamika puts hers smack dab in the middle of “The Art of Letting Go.” “My Christian beliefs don’t happen at the end of my life; they happen every day,” she says. “Even if I’m performing in a club, I still have God with me. I love God regardless of where I am. I won’t put it in a box and take it out when it’s convenient to do.” Keyboardist Jamie Hawkins, son of gospel music greats Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, now serves as Tamika’s bandleader. They met at Love Center church through Jamie’s wife, former Broadway actress Sunny Hawkins, who is Tamika’s Sigma Gamma Rho sorority sister. Tamika’s next scheduled appearance with her band is at 10 a.m. June 6 at the Cherry City Faire in downtown San Leandro. The new CD contains a highly sensual song titled “Chocolate Carmel Brown,” which first appeared on her 2001 debut disc, “My Message.” That CD was totally ignored by commercial radio stations in the U.S., although it did create something of a buzz in England and Japan, which is so often the case with American artists on independent labels. “Enough,” a gospel song from the current CD, has been played by Tinka Floyd on her KMEL gospel program. Tamika is hoping secular programmers will pick up on some of her other songs. Tamika presently is composing a bunch of blues songs that she plans to record on a CD by herself and other singers. “I really like the blues,” she says. “I think it fits our time, but people don’t do it appropriately. They’ll write a blues song, but it’ll be about something from 30 years ago, as opposed to right now. People are struggling right now, and I write songs from the fact that people are struggling. Because I struggled, I understand what that’s like.”

The Globe

Tamika featured in "The Globe".

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