Nicole Atkins, ‘Mondo Amore’ (Razor & Tie)
There’s no denying Nicole Atkins’ voice. If you’ve ever wondered what Kelly Clarkson would sound like channeling Roy Orbison, this big-lunged Jersey girl provides the oft-thrilling answer. On the follow-up to 2007’s terrific Neptune City, though, Atkins trades that album’s lush torch-song vibe for scrappier indie-garage arrangements that drain much of the drama and romance from her music. The surprisingly fierce “You Come to Me” fills the void with Sleater-Kinney-style rage, but Mondo Amore‘s other cuts make Atkins’ singing seem more ordinary than it is.