I find that this time of the year, as the leaves turn an autumn hue, and the nights get a little bit longer, one of the best times of the year. This extends itself to music, too. Usually, the music industry takes a summer holiday and saves its latest batch of releases for early September/October, and this year proves no exception. Already, we’ve been graced with a fantastic War on Drugs record, a superb 7th LP by the National, and we’ve welcomed LCD Soundsystem back into our lives with the spellbounding American Dream. It’s high time we added another name to their esteemed company, that of Hannah Nicholson, formerly of Bird to Beast, and now venturing solo with her first release, Breath, a 4-track EP that is gorgeous in its production and a pure delight to listen to.
Opening with ‘Oliver’, Breath’s tone is set by the first line; ‘What do you want me for?’. As the track progresses, it becomes clearer that ‘Oliver’, as the protagonist in the song, perhaps might not be treating his love as he should. Nicholson’s vocals carry a restraint which blossoms into something ethereal as the chorus kicks in; something that gives the track an added gravitas. As an introduction into who Hannah Nicholson is, ‘Oliver’ gives the listener a good idea as to what to expect.
Tonally, the style of Breath is primarily led by Nicholson’s voice, with piano and keys built up around her. ‘Crazy’ consists of Nicholson accompanying herself, layers of vocals backed by a faint twinkling of keys in the background. When Nicholson sings; ‘You make me crazy with one touch’, with the ‘ooooh’s’ and ‘ahhhh’s rising with the words, it’s enough to make the hairs on your neck stand up. Nicholson’s voice is simply beautiful to hear.
With headphones on, a few candles lit, and the winter jumpers keeping you warm, Hannah Nicholson is perfect company. The 4-tracks that make up Breath are over all too quickly, yet, if Nicholson can add to her already burgeoning abilities on a full record, it will be worth the wait. Whilst the big names might be garnering the headlines, lesser-known artists deserve the plaudits, and its unlikely you’ll hear an EP as good as Breath in 2017.