Schnebelen may never be a household name. It’s just too hard to pronounce, let alone spell. Danielle Nicole, however, is a name to remember.
After her family band — Trampled Under Foot — disbanded, Danielle Nichole Schnebelen dropped the last name and released an acclaimed solo album in 2015, “Wolf Den.” Danielle Nicole’s follow-up studio album, “Cry No More,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues Albums last March and on Dec. 7 it received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Regardless of a music lover’s appreciation of the blues, not to include it in the household’s record collection would be a low-down, dirty shame.
Danielle Nicole sings with the self-confidence of Koko Taylor, the power of Hurricane Ruth and she sounds like Etta James, blues vocalists for sure. But the irony is that “Cry No More” isn’t necessarily a blues album.
“… The blues is still a big part of what I do, but now I’m stretching out a lot more than I have previously,” she said in a statement released by the label Concord Records.
“Cry No More” could be compared to Gary Clark Jr.’s 2012 breakout album “Blak and Blu,” which had so many styles that it left listeners with the conclusion that, whatever you want to call it, the artist is undeniably brilliant.
Former Etta James drummer Tony Braunagel produced and co-wrote five songs with Danielle Nicole for “Cry No More.”
Songs on “Cry No More” range from rock to pop, to a foot-bouncing Hill Country blues to a smoky, speakeasy jazz. Superstar guitarists Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Luther Dickinson and Johnny Lee Schell (the engineer) all contributed to the tastefully arranged tunes. They don’t upstage the vocals of Danielle Nicole – and that’s probably impossible, anyway.
Highlights include “Bobby,” the most emotional song on the album. It’s a a story about the father of a family of talented Schnebelens. Then there’s “Hot Spell,” a sultry, arousing tune gifted to Danielle Nicole by Bill Withers, who attended the recording sessions and offered her the song he wrote in the 1970s. “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying” features stomping percussion, guitar and vocal harmonies from Luther Dickinson. (When she’s not performing solo, Danielle Nicole plays bass with Dickinson’s North Mississippi Allstars.)
With all of her talent, Danielle Nicole was destined to go solo. Perhaps the move was the result of it was becoming difficult for Trampled Under Foot to get gigs – that band probably stole the show every time it opened for a more well-known headliner. I could list names from the concerts I attended when that happened, but that wouldn’t be nice.
Trampled Under Foot was comprised of siblings Danielle Nicole, guitarist Nick and drummer Kris Schenebelen. So reunions seem inevitable. But the band went out on top in 2014 with Blues Music Awards for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year and Best Instrumentalist, Bass, Danielle Nicole, as well as a BMA nomination for Band of the Year.
Trampled Under Foot’s last two studio albums — Wrong Side of the Blues in 2011 and Badlands in 2013 – were produced by Tony Braunagel, who again inspired greatness from Danielle Nicole on “Cry No More.”
- Danielle Nicole
‘Cry No More’
Release: Feb. 23, 2018
Label: Concord Records
Standout tracks: ‘I’m Going Home,’ ‘Bobby,’ ‘Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying’