Monday, April 14, 2008

Nicola: Live at The Evening Muse 04/10/08

It seems like no matter where I go, I find that one place where things I like keep showing up. In Charlotte that place is NoDa's The Evening Muse, and this time the thing I like happens to be Nicola. Yes, Nicola. One name, kind of like Madonna…if Madonna actually had a vocal range, wrote her own songs and wasn't burdened by that whole blonde ambition thing. Ok, so now that I think about it she's nothing at all like Madonna.

Nicola rolled into Charlotte, and The Evening Muse, to promote the release of her new album Don't Take It Personally. Even though she only played a short acoustic set, accompanied by her longtime musical collaborator Jules Rosaly on bass, all of the energy and vocal prowess of this visiting diva-in-waiting shone through.

Did I mention that Nicola could sing? The Evening Muse is a small, intimate venue and she filled it. Truth be told, she probably could have filled it if the PA suddenly lost power and all the microphones burst into flame. Encompassed in this raven haired New Yorker is a powerfully trained, theatrical voice, which to me seems as if it could be just as at home on a Broadway stage as the Muse's smaller one.

As Nicola progressed through her set of stripped down original songs and the occasional cover, it also became clear that she could more than hold her own on guitar as well. The combination of voice, acoustic guitar and accompanying bass easily filled out the sonic landscape of those same stripped down songs…and they were even helped by a passing siren that had the amazing fortune of being in the right key and at a perfect place in her last song.

Musically, Nicola has her sights set on Pop, but not the bubblegum Brittney pop that currently saturates what passes for radio these days. She takes the classic foundation of a pop song and weaves in elements of jazz and rock along with just a touch of influence from warmer climates further south to make her own music more than just your average run of the mill pop song.

Nicola and Jules are back in New York for gigs around the City culminating in the last stop on her Don't Take It Personally CD release mini-tour at Pianos on May 2nd, where she will take all of the tunes from her Charlotte appearance and flesh them out with her full band. Hopefully after that she can find her way back down to the Queen City again with her full band and treat us all to the full Nicola experience.

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