The Philadelphia Inquirer gives “Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists” Four Stars!

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Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists
(Deep Fryed ****)

The title of Nikki Hill’s new album gives a hint of what’s in store. Simply put, Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists is a total knockout, one of the best and most exciting records of the year.

Just in her 20s, Hill is a big-voiced belter who’s already a towering presence – part soul diva, part rock queen. Fronting a taut guitar-bass-drums combo (with occasional piano) led by her husband, guitarist Matt Hill, she delivers one scorcher after another. Her ferocious songs echo rockabilly and punk (“Oh My”), riffing Stones (“Struttin’,” “Hotshot”), rave-up Faces (“Let Me Tell You ‘Bout Love”), and rabid Little Richard (“Scratch Back”). The change-of-pace “Nothin’ With You” shows Hill can drop the fists and the attitude and deliver a tender soul ballad. And the album closes with a revved-up version of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” that points up Hill’s connection to the past while underscoring just how thrillingly of the moment she is.

– Nick Cristiano