Nicole Stella was born in Italy where she studied jazz and classical music. In 2013 she moved to London and began making a name for herself there. She recently dropped New Day, which she says is a collection of original songs inspired by many influences, ranging from Joni Mitchell’s early folksongs to the classical and jazz echoes in Tori Amos’s work. It’s an accurate description and if you’re a fan of the aforementioned artists you should already be listening.
The music is sparse relying on one or two instruments and it's ultimately her vocals that carry the songs. There is no denying that she can sing. She has range and knows how to deliver subtle emotion and inflections into the lyrics. The recording quality is above that of a demo but still feels a tad bit short of something you would hear from a professional studio. It’s relatively minor things like a tinny guitar but overall it won’t take away from you enjoying the songs.
The album starts with “Queenstown Lane” which contains simple chord progressions and exceptional singing. One thing that stuck to me was the lyrics. It almost reads like the id in someone's mind at times. She sings, “Lonely hands and lonely eyes, The voice is raising, there's a ray of light. He doesn't believe in what you say, So pack your words and run away.”
On the next song “New Day” she puts down her guitar and plays the piano. It’s an enjoyable change that keeps the album engaging and interesting. In fact on the very next song “Jimmy Dean” which happens to be a highlight combines both instruments. The other highlight was “Daylight” which touts a haunting yet beautiful guitar melody. The lyrics mimic the atmosphere. She sings, “Dark eyes, Girl's got dark eyes, I watch her breathing in the night, She's got closed eyes. A rhythm I cannot feel.” The upbeat “Miss Drake” was a good choice to put after “Daylight” as it effectively switches up the mood.
Overall New Day is an enjoyable batch of folk pop songs that will appeal to a large demographic. The flow is seamless from beginning to end and it’s obvious that she put some thought into the sequential order of the music. She has gained a new fan and I will be looking forward to her future work.
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