Nikki Yanofsky

Nikki

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With Norah Jones choosing to pursue a career as a Bohemian singer/songwriter (and Nellie McKay revealing herself to be too artfully camp to even consider the mainstream), the door was wide open for a singer like Nikki Yanofsky: a bright, cheerful jazz-pop traditionalist happy to sing those old songs once again. And so she does on here 2010 debut, Nikki, produced in tandem by the legendary Phil Ramone and Jesse Harris, the guitarist/songwriter who came to prominence via his work on Jones’ debut Come Away with Me, where he penned her breakthrough hit “Don’t Know Why.” Harris performs a similar function on Yanofsky’s debut, co-writing the bulk of the non-classics here with the assistance of Ron Sexsmith and Yanofsky herself, crafting smooth, assured soft rock that’s of a piece with the sultriness of Come Away with Me (with the notable exception of the cabaret swing of “Bienvenue Dans Ma Vie”). But Nikki Yanofsky is clearly not Norah Jones: she possesses a puppy-dog eagerness that jibes with her 16 years, happy to perform and please. Her status as a show biz kid can occasionally grate -- whenever she succumbs to scatting, or does a too-cute mashup of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain,” she gives the impression of that too-talented, over-coached kid who dominates drama club -- but there’s also an innate brightness to her persona that is beguiling, particularly when she’s singing those numbers written with Harris and Sexsmith, songs that feel timeless and contemporary and take full advantage of her sunny nature.

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