Na_02_rgbNicole Atkins in a rare moment of relaxation.

Yes, we know that Nicole Atkins has a full dance card as she more than lives up to her inclusion on Rolling Stone’s 10 Artists to Watch list of 2006.

A torchy 29-year-old singer-songwriter with pipes like there’s no tomorrow, she’s been working her tail off in support of her widely-praised debut LP, “Neptune City,” named for her childhood hometown.

Recorded in Sweden with her band, the Sea, and tweaked by Columbia Records head Rick Rubin, the LP was released Oct. 30. That night, Atkins blew away Dave Letterman’s audience (not to mention the host) with her performance of “The Way It Is,” and then hit the road for a short tour that included a stop earlier this month at the Stone Pony.

Somewhere along the way, she even landed an American Express commercial in which she gets to plug her act.

Now, gearing up for a show next month at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Atkins is scheduled to play tomorrow night at Jack’s Music right here in Red Bank.

Still, with all that’s going on in her life, we have one small request of Atkins: please become more famous than Jon Bovi.

And if you can begin to nudge the perenially-straining-at-stool Bruce Springsteen out of the spotlight in the process, you’ll hear no complaint from us.

Why? Not because Jon Bovi’s trying to bigfoot a fellow Jerseyan in court over the name of a soft drink. And not because Atkins got fired from Clancy’s in Neptune for failing to play more Springsteen covers. This isn’t about payback.

Rather, it’s because it’s time. They’re boring, and she’s riveting.

If any musician within our borders has the potential to recast the state’s musical image, it’s Atkins. Her writing is noirishly sharp, the music is an intoxicating swirl of psychedelia crossed with country and vaudeville, and her swooning voice is transporting.

Whether she’s doing her own material, covering a Leadbelly’sWhere Did You Sleep Last Night?” or wrapping her vocal chords around Patti Smith’s “Pissing in a River,” she leaves watchers and listeners dizzy with her mastery.

A cascade of press has gushed over Atkins, comparing her to everyone from Lorretta Lynn and Mama Cass to Nick Cave and Roy Orbison. Others have detected bit of Edith Piaf in her voice, too, though we’re told Atkins has disclaimed familiarity with the French chanteuse.

In a recent interview, Atkins confessed that she’s “still scrapping for rent” on her place in Asbury Park. But we’re hoping she soon becomes rich enough to move into our nabe, now that Jon Bovi has decamped to SoHo and Springsteen appears to spend more time at his farm in Colts Neck than his Rumson manse.

Hey, the real estate market is down, her stock is up, and she seems a perfect fit for The Green. And we hear there are bargains to be had on the Middletown side of the Navesink.

In the meantime, longtime fans, new ones and the curious can see her play at Jack’s Music Shoppe, 30 Broad Street, at 5p. Tuesday. NPR is planning to rebroadcast on Dec. 17 a World CafĂ© show Atkins and the Sea taped earlier this year. And Atkins’ MySpace page (sign-in required) has a bunch of videos demonstrating her range, including the aforementioned Leadbelly and Patti Smith tunes.

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