nikki talley
Gig Seeker Pro

nikki talley

Asheville, NC | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Asheville, NC | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo Americana Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"SoundTrack web extra: Beautiful Charmer"

Local singer/songwriter Nikki Talley recently released her latest album (her third), Beautiful Charmer and the record does, indeed have many charms. The production, for one, which rightly focuses on Talley’s fine voice and well-crafted lyrics. And the supporting cast, which includes local luminaries like Aaron Price (keys, accordion, guitars), Mike Barnes (electric guitar), Bryan White (bass), Billy Cardine (Dobro), Andy Pond (banjo) ...and the list goes on.

The opening (and title) track allows the listener to ease into Talley’s word with slow, finger-style guitar and a hooky chorus sung, sweetly, in her upper register. But from there, Talley flexes her rock muscle with “Santa Fe” which, after a lonesome, harmonica-drenched intro, is all drive and grungy electric guitar, shimmering cymbals, dusty roads and California country reminiscent of The Eagles.

Country is Talley’s forte, albeit with her own twist. “Fugitives” has an outlaw feel with its 2/4 kick and hint of a snarl. (And, despite excellent musicianship, the polished record never veers from its mission to showcase the vocal — an imperative that serves Charmer well.) “Don’t Stand,” “Sing Him Away” and “Is It Wrong” are all variations on a theme: The classic countrified love gone wrong. The first recalls Patsy Kline with the right balance of retro cool and twang juxtaposed with honky tonk piano that never quite tarnishes the song’s sweetness. “Still I’m drunk as hell on his melodies,” Talley sing. The latter has teeth: “Are you kissing your lover on your way out the door or are lonely in some barroom drinking yourself to the floor?” Talley asks of gone-but-not-forgotten beau. The grit-meets-tenderness of the song harkens back to the duets of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, all pitch-perfect heartbreak.

On “Anna Marie,” Talley varies from form with a waltzy ballad set to jazz percussion. In some ways it’s the album’s most compelling track — perhaps for its immaculate execution, perhaps just because it’s different. But even that mythical turn can’t distract from the fact that where Talley is most at home is on the album’s final cut, “Mountain Outta Me.” That song, as its name hints, is a nose gleefully thumbed at any detractors. The sassy, marching rocker is not just a country anthem (though, should Talley ever want to make her fortunes in mainstream country, this one could feasible be a hit — a more eloquent “Redneck Woman”), it’s Talley’s personal anthem. And — even if you’re not a boots-wearing, line-dancing, whiskey-shooting country music fan — Talley’s pretty-meets-sassy song list makes you want to stomp and fist-pump right along with her.

Talley performs tomorrow, 10 p.m. at Westville Pub; Friday, Dec. 10, 9:30 p.m. at Jack of the Wood; Saturday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. at Craggie Brewery; Friday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m. at French Broad Brewery. - Mountain Express

"NOVEMBER 29, 2010 CD Reviews: Nikki Talley Beautiful Charmer"

Let me start by disclosing my bias right up front...Nikki Talley has long been one of my favorite local artists. She has an unrivaled talent for doing an incredible amount with just her voice and her guitar. However on her latest release, Beautiful Charmer, she has so many excellent guest musicians joining her, those talents are taken off the chain and given a few acres to run and go wild. A bit of a departure from her last effort (To Be A Bird ), Talley chooses a slightly more classical country direction this time . Whereas To Be A Bird made me want to go through my old love letters and drink bad scotch in a sweet nostalgic haze, Beautiful Charmer makes me want to put on my boots and my black cowboy hat and ask the artist herself to dance with me for a song or two. Talley's always silken, yet adaptable voice is on full display on this album, whispering sweet nothings to the listener on some songs (as on the title track), belting out her passion with full desperate power on others (as on "Fugitives") and crooning out her heartache honky-tonk style as on "Don't Stand" or "Sing Him Away." Talley's knack for conveying her feelings so personally and so authentically almost convinced me that she was singing just for me; telling a story for my ears only. She's that real. Furthermore, the musicians she's chosen to join her on this album only reinforce Talley's emotive talents (a standout for me being Paco Shipp and his haunting harmonica on "Santa Fe") and do her such a great service by providing a huge musical palette with which to paint. Great work as always, Nikki.

— Brent Fleury - Bold Life

"TO BE A BIRD-local cd roundup"

• To be a Bird by Nikki Talley

The highly autobiographical songwriting and warm, stripped-down acoustic sounds of Nikki Talley’s sophomore release, which was recorded in her Asheville apartment, give it the feel of being her musical journal, full of intimate reflections on past loves and adventures. The local singer/songwriter’s influences parallel her travels—songs like “I Love the Way” and “O to be a Bird,” with their banjo- and fiddle-fueled twang, echo her Appalachian roots in a way that fans of Gillian Welch would appreciate. Meanwhile, tracks like opener “Just for the Record” and closer “Take a Breath” bring to mind early Suzanne Vega and sound like products of the time spent gigging in the smoky cafes and clubs of Toronto. The album’s simple production allows Talley’s breathy voice to shine, showing why she won last year’s Carolina Star singing competition (a local version of American Idol).
Nikki Talley plays the French Broad Brewery on Friday, Sept. 19. 6 p.m. Free. 277-0222.

- Mountain Express

"Nikki Talley"

Local songstress Nikki Talley suffers from a rare condition -- an excess of talent. She's a stunning songwriter, combining haunting, richly symbolic lyrics about passion and love with a mastery of both guitar and piano; her music definitively sets a mood. Imagine a fusion of Tori Amos' passionate lyrical drive and Norah Jones' masterful spirit, plus an innate fearlessness that lets Talley crisscross genres from folk to bluesy rock to metal, and even take a lead role in last summer's Asheville production of the gender-bending "rock opera" Hedwig and the Angry Itch. She's not just good; she's that good. - Mountain Express-Asheville, NC

"Singer ditches 'real job' for the music lifestyle"

Nikki Talley sits at a bookstore cafe', but this 22-year old bundle of creative energy and self confidence was in no need fo the Starbucks caffeine.
She's been putting in plenty of hours - not at her old bartending job, but pursuing her career as a musician. She recently quit her job as a bartender to dedicate herself full time to music.
"I've made a promise to myself to never work again unless it's as a musician."
Although leaving the security of a regular job can be scary, Ms. Talley feels no regret about her decision.
"It's the lifestyle. I don't understand why people settle for less. I can't believe some people settle to be unhappy just to have a big house or a car."
Her first gig was at Molley's Market in downtown Wilmington six months ago. Since then, she's performed all over town.
"This town has been very good to me as far as music goes. Within a year I've been able to quit my job," Ms. Talley said.
But Ms. Talley does more than just sing and play guitar - her fans say she puts on a heck of a performance. "I want to give them the fun, the glitter and all of that. I don't want to see some girl up on stage in her T-shirt and jeans. I don't care how good you are, it's always fun to see a crazy performance."
Musically, Ms. Talley has been compare to Annie D'Franco. Some of her influences include Natalie Merchant, Beruca Salt, Stevie Nicks and Sarah McLachlan. However, her greatest musical influence and inspiration is her mother.
"My mom must have sang to me in the womb, because as soon as I came out I was singing," Ms. Talley said. "She taught me how to play guitar and she gave me my first guitar when I was 3 or 4. I think I was just totally blessed with my mom's musical talent and ability."
But, don't compare her to Jewel or Tori Amos. "I don't like the stereotypes of 'oh you're just like Jewel, a girl on a guitar' or "it's Tori Amos on a piano," Ms. Talley said.
She doesn't mind if you compare her to Natalie Merchant though. "I was in the Shanakee one night and this girl from Australia said 'Is that Natalie Merchant?" to the bartender," Ms. Talley said.
Ms. Talley's music ranges from country roots to 'nothing but rock 'n' roll."
"I'd have to say that my vocals are my main thing. I think that if you give me anything vocally, I could do it. I've sung classically, operatic styles, blues, even jazz. And then country, I can throw the twang in there or I can scream punk rock," Ms. Talley said.
"It all varies from pretty sweet girl on piano, playing and singing her heart out to just don't mess with me edge, but still very lyrical and very sweet."
Nikki dreams the big dreams of a star.
She wants to stand out in the world and be known for something extraordinary. "I want people to know Nikki Talley as a musician, not a bartender, and not a waitress and not something else that a lot of other people do. I want people to say 'yeah that girl can rock.'
"I want to be able to share what I have in my head, in my heart and in my soul. I want to be able to give it to other people and inspire other people," Ms. Talley said.
Ms. Talley especially wants to be a role model for girls and a symbol of strength for wome. "I see little girls looking when they see me singing in clubs and on the streets and I hope they realize it's okay for a girl to pick up a guitar, say the bad words, rock out and be self confident about yourself."
Ms. Talley said too many people let themselves be walked on.
"I saw women in my life - family, friends - be pushed around an dI was like...that's not going to happen to me."
Ms. Talley, originally from Reidsville, a town outside of Greensboro, says she is living the American dream.
"You know, the girl grows up in small town, then leaves small town and vows to never go back. It was a nice, safe place for me to grow up and not experience a big city kind of crazy lifestyle."
"Then I went to college and dyed my hair purple and said that I was going to quit school, join a punk rock band and move to Chapel Hill."
Ms. Talley attended Brevard College of Music in 1995 and stayed for one year. She then moved to Key West, Fla., at 19.
"I jumped on a Greyhound bus with my guitar and backpack, just like a movie, went down tehre and lived on a sailboat for 6 months."
She intended to visit a boy she met while on a family vacation, but ended up blowing him off for a 40-year-old. "I met a guy twice my age, and for some reason it worked. I just jumped on the boat, we sailed around and I would sing on the streeets for money down there. They have a sunset festival, like the one they have here and there's jugglers and fireeaters."
The street playing and sailing cycle continued for six months. "I'd save up money, we'd buy a bunch of supplies and go sailing for a month and then come back. It was the life but that was all you did and it got old." Ms. Talley move - Morning Star-Wilmington, NC

"Surviving “Star"dom"

In not exactly this order, this is how Nikki Talley has spent the past few months: She ended a three-year stint playing cafes in suburban Toronto; reintegrated to her home turf in Western North Carolina; turned 30; and released her second album, Telling Lies.

A Star is reborn: Now that she’s proven she can play the hits on Carolina Star, local solo artist Nikki Talley is ready to get back to her own songs.
And then there was that $10,000 she won on the local reality TV show Carolina Star. But, to hear her tell it, that was done almost on a whim.

“I was out in the garden one day listening to a radio station,” recalls Talley. “I was staking up tomatoes and getting rid of Japanese beetles, when I heard this announcement saying something about ’Carolina Star ... $10,000 ... recording contract ... tryouts at The Orange Peel ... Channel 13 coverage.’”

Freshly returned from the Great White North, Talley says she decided it to give it a shot. After all, she’d been out of the local music since 2004, and she hadn’t really had time to raise her profile back to its former level. Carolina Star seemed like a long shot, but it at least it would be something.

“My original idea was to get as much local press as I could in order to let folks know I was back in town,” she explains. “I was kind of looking for something to propel me into the spotlight, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I’d at least get on the TV once.”

As it would turn out, Talley got to be on the TV way more than once. An experienced performer, she rose through the ranks of the 12-week competition, slowly edging out hundreds of other contestants in the American Idol-like show.

“There were so many damn good singers, I never expected to get so far,” she says. “And I never in thought I’d win it!” But win it she did, belting out surprisingly powerful versions of classic songs like “Hit the Road Jack,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” “Let it Be” and her final song, Neil Young’s “Helpless.” (Which, coincidentally, is a song about Canada.)

Although all of the previous Carolina Star shows had been prerecorded, the end of the finale episode was broadcast live from the sales lot of sponsor Auto Advantage. Talley had nearly been voted off the show only a few weeks before, and didn’t have high hopes about claiming the prize.

“[When] they announced the winner, I still didn’t think I heard ‘em right ... I really was stunned,” she says. “From the video and photos folks showed me afterwards, I truly have this glazed over look on my face. The hardest thing was to go and sing after they handed me that big ol’ check. I could hardly speak, much less bust out a prize-winning performance.”

Now that Carolina Star is over, with some of the cash already spent on a new guitar and clutch for her truck, Talley isn’t exactly sure what, if any, long-term impact the show will have on her career. In fact, some parts of the show are still unresolved, such as the exact details of the “recording deal” that was supposed to be part of Carolina Star prize package.

And then there’s a larger question: What can people know about Talley’s real music - her original material - from watching how she sang 90-second snippets of other people’s hits?

But she’s not letting it get to her, claiming that she’s glad to return to her own gigs and her own songs. “It was weird for me not to play my own music and not to play my guitar. I didn’t know what to do with my hands while I sang!”

Now back on the gigging circuit and belting out her distinct brand of bittersweet melancholia, Talley seems almost as reluctant to embrace Carolina Star-dom as she is hesitant to accept the label of singer/songwriter.

“I do sing, and I do write songs, but the [singer/songwriter] genre isn’t something I think I represent properly,” explains Talley. “I hate the genre thing. I actually hate the word itself. I don’t like saying it.”

So, if she’s not a singer/songwriter, and she’s not comfortable embracing the role of a cover artist, what kind of musician is Nikki Talley, exactly? Should her stint with her old rock group be considered? Or the time she took a turn in musical theater, playing Yitzak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch?

Even Talley is at a loss for an exact description of the music she makes. But she can get close.

“I think my musical style is something like this,” she explains. “PJ Harvey is playing bartender alongside Tori Amos, Björk, Natalie Merchant, Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco. They have Alice in Chains on the stereo in the back of the room, and they are all trying to come up with the perfect cocktail. They each throw in their own pinches of spice, and turn on the blender. It’s a tasty, dark melody, and it makes your heart burn. [Then] comes Laurie Anderson with some Rolaids.”

But that’s not quite right, and even Talley knows it.

“I don’t know what my music sounds like,” she adds. “The songs just kind of take over themselves.”
- Mountain Express-Asheville,NC

"Acoustic in the Queen City"

..."Nikki Talley-The Asheville Carolina Star winner-think American Idol with a $10,000 prize and recording contract-performed for a small crowd at Evening Muse on a triple-bill of women on July 12. Her powerful vocals showed why she had the talent to win the competition as she conjured up a coffee house vibe in the small venue. She was there in support of her latest release, Telling Lies. While her vocal tone hung in a softer side, there were defininte moments of power and even rock. The eerie 'bianca' showed another side"... - Creative Loafing Charlotte, NC

"Nikki Talley Telling Lies"

If you remember Dido's delicate wail, then you have a pretty good jumping off point for what you'll find on Nikki Talley's latest, Telling Lies-just think moodier. Evoking the mythical Siren Songs, Talley's gorgeous vocals weave through dark, hypnotic ballads for the lovelorn. Not afraid to explore her low register, Talley's vocals still conjure the ethereal quality of Sarah McLachlan and the depth of Tori Amos as she speaks to the legions of scorned and heartbroken women. But Talley is no victim. There is a quiet strength in Talley's songwriting, and an alluring aching appeal to her guitar/piano melodies that earned Talley the recent title of Carolina Star, North Carolina's take on American Idol. Personally, I will be interested to see if Talley can break out of the gloomy-gorgeous formula that pervades Telling Lies on subsquent releases and flex those amazing vocals with something a little more upbeat. But sometimes, a good brooding record is just that. And obviously, Talley's doing something right. - Bold Life Magazine-Asheville, NC

"Have You Heard Any Good Music Lately?"

I know, there are seven million singer-songwriters out on the road these days, but this woman delivers the type of North Carolina country you wished your local radio station played. - No Depression


live at the altamont theater-2012
beautiful charmer-2010 (#23 in WNCW'S top 100 releases of 2010)
to be a bird-2008 (#28 in WNCW'S top 100 releases of 2008)
telling lies-2007



Nikki Talley is a hardworking, energetic, mountain girl with a big voice. She is one half of a FULL TIME touring husband & wife DUO based out of Asheville, NC contributing acoustic guitar, clawhammer banjo & of course her trademark stunning vocals. Since January 2012 she & husband Jason Sharp, who accompanies her on finger style & flat picking guitar as well as bass & harmonies, have played 180+ shows in 16 states throughout the Southeast touring out of their Chevy van, Blue Bell, they bought w/ money raised from a successful Kickstarter campaign. Her latest album "Out From the Harbor" reached into the top 100 on the Americana Charts. 

Here's a few clips from last month at Music City Roots in Nashville Walk Away (mellow song) Big Ole Robin (upbeat tune about spring)

*Magnolia Fest (Live Oak, FL headliners Willie Nelson, Jon Prine, Kris Kristofferson)
*Frank Brown International Songwriters Fest (Gulf Shores, AL)
*Bristol Rhythm n Roots Fest (Bristol TN with Lucinda Williams, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale & more)
*30A songwriters festival (South Walton, FL with Ani Difranco, Richard Thompson, John Oates & more)

More Youtubes:
performance at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA
Altamont theatre in Asheville, NC
Banjo performance for Our State Magazine in Greensboro, NC

Band Members