Nikki Lane: Vogue Artist of The Week


It’s not just Nikki Lane’s raw, Tammy Wynette–style voice that gives her retro-country sound its stamp of authenticity. The South Carolina native, 25, who now lives in Nashville after brief stints in L.A. and New York, also has a backstory that is (to quote Billy Ray Cyrus) as country as country can be.

“While I was living in New York my boyfriend dumped me and moved to Atlanta,” she explained on a recent trip back to the city. “I was heartbroken, and stuck by myself, crying and upset. I’d been talking for years about making a record so I just started writing.”

Lane’s debut EP, Gone, Gone, Gone (which was released last month), is filled with dozens of moments just like this—the kind which evoke classic, old-school country themes like loneliness, heartbreak pining, and regret—but are kept alive by an upbeat, honky-tonk sound and a well-mythologized, survivalist spirit.

Take for instance the video for “Gone, Gone, Gone,” in which shots of Lane (dressed in all black and taking a contemplative ride through the Tennessee countryside on a ragged-out red moped) are intercut with grainy clips of her performing—on what looks like an homage to The Porter Wagoner Show—in a yellow paisley dress and sporting a towering beehive. Watching it, it’s hard not to conjure an image of a forgotten country starlet, who possibly came to a tragic end when fame and loving the wrong man got too much for her.

In real life, Lane is far luckier. After she made a pilgrimage to Nashville to record her first album (“I just wrote to lots of bands down there and said, ‘I suck at guitar, I sing pretty well, can you help me make my record?’ ”), she briefly returned to New York to find the album had served another purpose. “I got back to New York with the record and the guy who dumped me wanted to get back together,” she says. “We’re actually married now!” And who says country music has no happy endings?

- Freddie Campion