Thirtysomethings who remember Nikka Costa as the child singer of tunes like “First Love” and “Candy Man” back in the early 1980s (her first hit was “Out Here on My Own,” a remake from the soundtrack of “Fame” in 1981, when she was a 9-year-old) probably wouldn’t recognize the soul-infected, bluesy sound that is the base of “Pebble To A Pearl,” her latest CD released on the legendary Stax label. The daughter of late arranger and producer Don Costa (who led Frank Sinatra’s band for several decades), Nikka Costa has enjoyed respectable success in Europe since 2001’s “Everybody’s Got Their Something,” her debut grown-up recording (which scored number-one on charts across the pond). However, for some reason her career failed to fully ignite Stateside—possibly because the pop-music scene here was way too infatuated with the likes of Britney Spears and boy bands then. This situation might change with the new disc, which is being promoted via an extended US tour. “Pebble to a Pearl” is a pretty daring disc, carefully evoking the soul of Aretha Franklin and her contemporaries without sounding dated. As you can hear on the video for “Stuck to You,” she subtly incorporates electronic elements to a tune that could have been a hit a very long time ago but that somehow does not feel out of place in 2008. If she sounds as good live as she does on record, she might just be this year’s big comeback kid. (Ernest Barteldes)
October 28 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage, (773)929-5959. 7:30pm. $20.