Nicole Atkins | photo by Anna Webber | courtesy of the artist

New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins has been a favorite around the WXPN universe since debuting ten years ago with Neptune City, an album named for her hometown along the northern coast of the Garden State, just south of Asbury Park. She has a commanding voice and a charismatic presence, whether performing in rock band configuration, as a solo balladeer, or bringing a theatrical flare to club stages around the country.

This year, Atkins returns with Goodnight Rhonda Lee, a collection informed by classic American songwriting styles of the 20th century — a bit of country, a bit of soul, a bit of Brill Building pop. Next Friday, September 8th, Atkins headlines Boot and Saddle, and leading up to the show, she’ll be doing a takeover of the XPN Instagram — stay tuned for details on that. For now, we asked her to share a few songs she was listening to for inspiration while Goodnight Rhonda Lee was in the works. Here’s what she came back to us with.

“He Called Me Baby” by Candi Staton

The laid back groove, the songwriting, and Miss Staton’s honest voice taking you through the story like your heart had lived it.

“Cryin” by Roy Orbison

How to make beauty out of an otherwise heartbreaking and embarrassing situation that transcends the galaxies.

“I Pity the Fool” by Bobby “Blue” Bland

So direct. You think it can’t get anymore sharp and then the chorus comes and Bobby shoots straight white walker dragon blue fire through your soul.

“Poses” by Rufus Wainwright

I coulda been a contender. How did I get here? What happened? Ouch. That pain. I’ve been listening to this song since it came out back in the day goin’ “I know. I know.”

“My Autumn’s Done Come” by Lee Hazelwood

I want to live in this song. It was a big inspiration for “A Night of Serious Drinking.”

Nicole Atkins headlines Boot and Saddle on Friday, September 8th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.