If you're still wondering what Billie Joe and his paramour threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge, here's an unexplored theory: It was the unborn blueprint for the music of Jennifer Niceley
, a Knoxville-raised, East Nashville-based singer and songwriter with a flair for Southern gothic drama and a torch to bear for all the hearts her after-after-hours croon sends down river. With her new full-length debut Luminous
, she rewrites Bobby Blue Bland's "Blind Man" as "Blind Woman," letting a luxuriant string section wash away the blues, and redefines sultry soul the way Neko Case redefines moody alt-country or Billie Holiday redefines jazz balladry. Guided by the shadowy slide and distended riffs of guitarist Joe McMahan, Niceley evokes midnight confessions, turbulent romance and a dark, flowing, mysterious lyricism.