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April 21, 2015

Scene and Heard: Nicki Bluhm

“What’s on this record is very lean,” says Nicki Bluhm, lead singer of San Francisco-based band Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, about the ensemble’s new album, Loved Wild Lost (Little Sur Records) launching on Tuesday, April 21. Bluhm says the band gathered to record its second album at Stinson Beach’s Panoramic Studio, an idyllic setting for the new bluesy songs produced by Brian Deck. The singer-songwriter, who grew up in Lafayette and lives with her husband—co-songwriter and the band’s multi-instrumentalist Tim Bluhm—in the Outer Sunset, notes that this session was also the band’s first with an outside producer. “He stripped it down,” Bluhm says of Deck’s work on the album. Each passage and note gets its due. In preparation, the band members spent time gathering ideas and honing tunes long before they assembled in Marin. “We don’t show songs until they’re really ready,” Bluhm says, explaining that members make demos of tracks to play for each other once a new work is sketched out. “We had 10 days of pre-production to teach each other how to play the songs,” Bluhm says of the time spent preparing tracks with bandmates Bluhm, guitarist Derek Ney, bassist Steve Adams, rhythm guitarist Dave Mulligan, and drummer Mike Curry. “It might be more collaborative if we shared the songs earlier,” she notes. “But this is how we do it.”

Deck helped the band hone its sound and added some new depth to the melodic songs. Three tracks, “Waiting On Love,” “Simpler Times,” and “High Neck Lace” include arrangements by San Francisco’s Magik*Magik Orchestra. “The new record is going to take some attentiveness,” says Bluhm. So sit back and let it play.

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: Nicki Bluhm of Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers.

Photo courtesy of Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

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