Heather Nation is an artist that deserves a lot more recognition than she currently has. Her exceptional debut album entitled Sirens showcases her dynamic, powerful often-stunning voice while exploring elements of folk, pop and more.
There is so much emotion brimming from her voice on these songs it almost makes you look past the beautiful instrumentation. I was reminded of Hope Sandoval at times and other times heard tinges of an artist like Fiona Apple.
This album is also rich with diversity while still feeling like they came from the same palette. Take for instance the opener and utterly original sounding “We Would Have to Whisper.” The music here, which seems to be just her vocal harmonies, sounds like it could have come from Bjork’s Medulla. It’s a tranquil borderline meditative song that's gorgeous. It’s that simple. Words don’t do justice. It’s one of those songs that sends chills down your spine when she sings lines like, “We would have to whisper / Oh, we just shouldn't / make a sound / All this noise / in my heart / So full, I can't.”
She makes the right move with the next song “The Spirit will Take You.” She introduces guitar, drums (which utilizes brushes), bass and possibly some more percussion into a more lively, upbeat yet somehow mellow song. It’s an open canvas with a lot of space that sounds natural and organic. Her voice rises above everything else and this is the point you realize just how good of a voice she has.
“Blood Honey” moves by in a slower Mazzy Star kind of way while “Supernova” relies on little more than an acoustic guitar and her vocals. Comparisons to Joanna Newsom came to mind on “Supernova.”
As great as the songwriting is it's also important to note the lyrics are also top notch as well. Lyrics like “Glass for bones / Walking is a treat / My toes they're always cold / Because I got backwards facing feet and I can't control my ankles” avoid clichés and veers towards poetic imagery. Other lyrics are prolific and striking such as “Oh after the pain All that remains is the beauty”.
Minimalism suites Nation well as you hear again on “Yearns for More.” The music is more atmosphere than anything (especially during the beginning) as her voice is the clear focal point. She closes with an absolutely gorgeous song called “Sara.” When she sings repeats and sings “O Sara” it’s one of the album's best moments.
It boggles my mind that an artist this good lives in relative obscurity. I encourage you to take a listen and spread the word. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying Sirens for quite some time.
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