Nicole Simone makes music from her own point of view. That is probably why the Nicole Simone EP
sounds so deeply personal while it's spacious minimalism and cinematic swells ruminate in an empty room. Simone is a pro-sumer when it comes to her influences, acting as a time-capsule funnel for the classic bits of early 19th century standards to survive in the collective conscious. Simone is an interesting person: raised in LA, obsessed with the singers of the 20s and 30s, with an aesthetic angle to match. She is charming and involved. I had the good fortune to talk with her, and it made discerning the relationship between her modernity and her nostaligic preoccupations a bit easier.
Obviously this distinction is a subtle one, which is why its so hard to nail down. The record itself is more dusty than laser cut; there are no synthesizers, and most of the instruments were recorded together in one room. This was Simone's aesthetic choice; the "feel of an old band" is important to her work. This extends to her lyrical development, straightforward and open-ended: "That's the reason I love those old songs" she told me when we sat down a few weeks ago. "They were simple". No one would accuse Simone of overreaching with her arrangements, which often make good use of the negative space in between her audible breaths.
But there is also a twinge of knowing in this collection, a reminder that its a twist on the classic recipe. Multi-instrumentalists lend a hand in the recording process to show the influence of other decades on the songs; most notably Jason Schwartzman and Stewart Cole (of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes) for the more current angle. Neither drastically change the gin-soaked feeling, but their presence creates a subtext of modernity that gives the entire collection a fresh feel.
Most of all, Simone, a child of the eighties, writes the songs, and the songs are more Simone than any of her influences. They expand and contract, like a breath, utilizing the textures of the various instruments to create space, and take it away... and always with a twinge of melancholy that is less about aesthetic and more about personal preference. Simone doesn't ever to be a tear jerker. "I hope that people are able to connect to them, [the songs] are sort of not mainstream, but I think I don't want people to be sad by them , I want people to be happy by them. 'Sad' music has always made me happy, I can always relate, I can always connect, that makes me happy." Songs with personality and honest intention always seem to resonate louder. -joe puglisi
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MP3:"Melt" - Nicole Simone EP
Nicole Simone on Myspace