Danielle Nicole said flying solo after 15 years with her sibling band "Trampled Underfoot" had her a bit nervous. But when critical raves and a Blues Blast Music Award for her debut album "Wolf Den" rolled in, she said it was validating.
"There was a lot of skepticism when "Trampled Underfoot" broke up and we went our separate ways. Our fans said we were so great together and wondered how we're going to do this apart. So it was pretty cool to be well received and to especially be nominated at all. And then to receive the award was just awesome," said Nicole.
With songs titles including "Fade Away," "It Ain't You" and "You Only Need Me When I'm Down," "Wolf Den" is dotted with romance gone wrong. Nicole said she embraces those tough songs, in that some of the best perspective when writing comes from personal experience. Though she penned many of the songs on the album, the bitter "It Ain't You" with the lyrics: "The way we always fuss and fight/It ain't true/That's not the kind of thing that love would do/It ain't real/But this is the way you make shit feel/I know I'm supposed to be in love with somebody/But it ain't you" was not one of hers.
"'It Ain't You' was actually written by Anders Osborne. He had been looking for a home for the song and he actually let me record it. It is such a great song," said Nicole.
"Take It All" is another lyrically dark song on "Wolf Den. " Musically, it has the R&B feel of a song that might have been heard on Top-40 radio in the 1950's. Nicole said that's no accident, as she and her brothers were exposed at a young age to blues, soul, and R&B.
"My parents played music and my Dad had a huge record collection, so I listened to everything growing. When I got into Koko Taylor, it was over" laughed Nicole. "Oh man, Koko and Etta (James). So I was exposed at a very young age to that music. I actually hit the stage with my parents band when I was 12 years old at a 'Blues in the School' program."
Reflecting on the decision a couple years ago to fly solo after brother Chris left Trampled Underfoot, Nicole conceded she was apprehensive. But she said getting her brother's encouragement was a blessing.
"It was comforting," said Nicole. "We've been doing Trampled Underfoot since I was 18 years old. And they're my brothers. I always felt I was the safest person in any club because I had my two brothers with me. So to go out on this departure was really scary. To have the blessing of my brothers was more validating than any accolades."