We here at Rhapsody are always on the hunt for exciting, innovative new musicians. So this year we decided to reinstate our Ones to Watch series, where we focus on one emerging artist for an entire month and provide you with exclusive content from the promising up-and-comer. For the month of May, we’ve chosen smoky alt country rocker Nikki Lane as our featured artist. The retro-leaning singer-songwriter has just released new album All or Nothin’, produced by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach, and its playful bad-girl imagery, vintage guitars and garage-rock beats keep luring us in. Get to know Lane better with this exclusive Q&A, in which she fills us in on her George Strait crush, what it’s like working with a Black Key, the three songs she can’t stop listening to, and much more.

1. What made you want to play music in the first place?

Vanity? Melodies? I mean … they were just coming to mind, and wouldn’t anyone choose touring the country over sitting at a shop? It sure sounded easy at the start.

2. You’ve moved from South Carolina to Los Angeles to NYC to Nashville. What place really feels like home for you and why?

Nashville, because I can finally afford to have a cozy home and travel. That balance keeps me sane. Well, as sane as I’m gonna get. But I yearn for the other two — the food, the nightlife, the flea markets, the pace. Maybe one day I’ll just keep a place in all three … I never have liked having to choose.

3. What was it like working with Dan Auerbach on your album All or Nothin’?

Like being spoiled. We had the best band … Kenny Vaughan on guitar, Russ Pahl on pedal steel … the room was full of talented players. That, paired with Dan’s ability to effortlessly manage so many personalities and create strong themes for each song by showing us all references I’m sure at least a few of us had never even heard before. And you can’t forget how much his engineer Collin Dupuis and studio manager Danny Tomczak made the process move along smoothly. You have to get lucky to get a team like I did.

4. What are you listening to right now?

Daniel Romano‘s “He Lets Her Memory Go,” Clear Plastic Masks‘ “So Real,” Bobby Charles‘ “Tennessee Blues” … those three songs. Over and over.

5. What’s a song you wish you wrote?

Tom Petty‘s “Saving Grace.” I’ve been singing it for Jameson’s Petty Fest, a show to benefit the charity Sweet Relief. I’ve fallen so in love that it’s going into my set list, and I hope to record it for the next record.

6. When you think about your very first crush, what artist, song or album comes to mind?

George Strait. Sure, I might have loved a man before the first time I saw Pure Country, but I surely doubt it.

7. If you could emulate anyone’s career, whose would it be? Why?

Neil Young. The guy’s a badass, a family man, a devoted father, collects old cars and guitars, and hasn’t lost his edge in his old age. He’s my No. 1.

8. Name the: 1) first album you ever bought, 2) last album you bought and 3) three albums you couldn’t live without.

  1. First album I got was a Celine Dion CD I won on the radio when I was a kid.
    2) Ty Segall‘s Twins
  2. Neil Young’s After the Gold RushThe Flamin’ Groovies‘ Teenage HeadRonnie Lane‘s Anymore for Anymore

9. If you were to write a memoir about yourself, what would the title be?

“The Fall and Fall of Nikki Lane”

10. What does being a Rhapsody’s Ones to Watch artist mean to you?

That sh*t is happening … what a thrill to be asked to tell you my story. Sometimes you start to wonder: Is anybody listening??