Friday, September 8, 2017

Nikki Briar – Shining Brighter Than Ever


In her hit single, After the New Wears Off, Nikki Briar asks her partner: “After the new wears off, do you still care?”

I have been listening to this song for three months now, several times a day, and there is nothing about the song that is wearing on me. I don’t think Nikki has any concerns about her shine fading anytime soon. In fact, I think she is a rising country star to be reckoned with for years to come – somewhat of a rarity for a Jersey girl.

Once I heard After the New Wears Off, I had to dig a little deeper into her song history, and I found Country Thang. A track that more deeply explores Nikki’s combined rock and country roots.  Both songs are flawlessly produced in traditional Nashville style, and both songs are permanently installed in my iTunes favorites library.

It is not a coincidence that Briar is extremely talented. Both of her parents were extremely gifted musicians in their own right. Her father, Joseph, was a touring drummer in the Motown band, The Victorians. Her mother, Oksana, was a classically trained pianist and artist. Nikki is a great example of an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. However, instead of decaying in the shadows of that tree, she planted new seeds and grew taller and brighter than the original.

Nikki epitomizes the spirit of rising musicians. She doesn’t stop touring in support of her music – 220 shows per year! She has performed openers for the likes of Tim McGraw, Granger Smith, Chase Bryant, Parmalee, LoCash, Cassadee Pope, and more. In addition, she has headlined at the legendary Stone Poney in Asbury Park, NJ, and the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ.

Finally, Nikki is a proud Army wife, and performs the national anthem whenever possible at numerous military events. Her patriotism is evident in the recordings on her first EP, A Soldier’s Princess.

Get a little taste of country and a lick of rock. Find Nikki on social media:

Twitter and Facebook: @NikkiBriar


Or, visit all things Nikki Briar on her website:  http://www.nikkibriar.com

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sophie Smith - Underwater?


She’s not underwater from what I hear!  I was introduced to this new lyricist / vocalist from England a couple of days ago online, and I am so glad I took the time to check out her new single “Underwater” on YouTube (which by the way, was just uploaded last month and already has over 2,800 views).

Of course, the first thing that struck me was the power and clarity in Sophie’s voice.  As I’ve said in previous reviews, the music can be beautifully composed, performed, and arranged, but if it’s layered with a not-so-adequate voice, it’s all for naught.  That is certainly not the case in “Underwater.”

The second characteristic of the song that I noticed was its simplicity of instruments chosen. I’ve long been a fan of the “less is more” concept in this regard. Many songs over the last couple of decades are layered with so many guitars, vocal tracks, and even keyboards that they almost can’t help but sound “good.” By “good,” I mean far better than the song is going to sound when it is performed live, unless there are twenty-five musicians on stage.  Sophie’s “Underwater” track avoids that, consisting primarily of an electric guitar, vocals and harmony, some non-intrusive keyboard pads, and a beat – certainly not overwhelming.

My favorite component of the song is the lyrics - powerful and thought provoking. Take this part of the verse for example:

“And I can feel your heart beating through my chest, pushing its way through. And I can feel your touch with my memories, keeping you alive.”

These types of lyrics can mean many things to different people, yet at the same time, they create a desire to know what Sophie was thinking about when she wrote them.

“Underwater” by Sophie Smith is available on iTunes at http://apple.co/2vyke8t

Finder her on Twitter at @Sophiielouuiise