Just when you thought the world had run out of quirky female singer-songwriters, Chelsea Nikkel emerges from her New Zealand hideaway. The words “kooky” and “idiosyncratic” certainly spring readily to mind but they’re often accompanied by “twee” and “irritating” as well. Thankfully, Princess Chelsea falls on the right side of the fence.
Moods range between the playful (the childlike but annoyingly catchy ‘Monkey Eats Bananas’) and the quietly menacing (a ballad named ‘Yulia’ finds Nikkel’s pitying a friend who kids herself she’s happy in a relationship) but the constant is Nikkel’s childlike vocals and the imagery she evokes. Even the album cover art has a strong fairy tale theme.
Yet the lyrical matter is made of serious ingredients. A definite standout is ‘The Cigarette Duet’ which has a strong scent of a Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra collaboration. Other infuences emerge as ‘Caution Repetitive’ is reminiscent of Lettie whereas the tearful ‘Too Fast To Live’ recalls the doomed girl group songs of the 1960’s.
It’s questionable whether Nikkel can sustain a career on her sweet little girl act. Yet the more mature material and the neat variations in arrangement and style make ‘Lil’ Golden Book’ a more than useful start to her album career.
Lettie, Stina Nordenstam