Nikka Costa

Pebble to a Pearl


Nikka Costa’s third album delves even deeper into the hardcore R&B, soul and funk influences she’s been indebted to for her entire career, and in the process sacrifices some of the pop appeal of her earlier work. Pebble to a Pearl is a little more laid-back, a little less structured and quite a bit less catchy than Costa’s first two albums, but it also has more musical depth, with a band of studio veterans (mostly from soul and R&B backgrounds) augmenting Costa on organic-sounding songs that eschew drum loops, synthesizers and other pop trappings that the singer’s relied on in the past.


Nikka Costa
Three stars
Beyond the Weekly
Nikka Costa Nikka Costa

Some of the longer, more slow-burning tunes are a little shapeless, and find Costa’s strong, sassy voice buried amid all the accomplished instrumentalists. But the supremely funky one-two punch of “Keep Wanting More” and “Keep Pushin’” strongly integrates Costa’s modern pop instincts with the throwback sound; she definitely seems more at home on upbeat numbers like that than on sultry ballad “Love to Love You Less” or midtempo jam “Damn I Said It First,” which tend to meander aimlessly.

Pebble could be seen as a retreat for Costa, who wasn’t really ever able to penetrate the pop charts, but the casual feel of the album speaks to a newfound freedom that comes from no longer having to search for a hit single. While it’s great that she’s found a comfortable niche here, that search did yield some impressive—and more memorable—results.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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