Nina Nastasia has a voice that could fill a room effortlessly. As each song leaves her lips, the words flow out so softly and cautiously that you can almost overlook the power that comes with them. Combining her vocal strength with gentle acoustic music, Outlaster was born.
Nastasia is not new to the music scene – back in 2000 she gained praise from the late Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Ten years later and she’s still producing quality albums. Ten tracks make up this album with the opening song, Cry, Cry, Baby, being released as the first single. It’s in this song that I was immediately struck by the way in which the instruments are used to add drama and suspense to the vocals. Violin playing appears to form the foundations of track with Nastasia demonstrating her vocal range impressively. High notes are followed by much lower subdued tones to construct something clever.
Moves Away is slightly faster paced with the percussion being central to the song, with moments where Nina’s voice sounds as though she is speaking over the music as opposed to singing. Sometimes this leaves me unimpressed and questioning why an artist would opt not to add a melody however it suits this short track rather well.
Meanwhile, You’re A Holy Man and You Can Take Your Time are both particularly enjoyable for their choruses, they’re catchy without becoming grating. The guitar playing in the latter is an aspect that I’d love to see live as, I’d imagine that adding some acoustics to the song would only enhance the listening experience. As Nina’s voice greets you before any instruments in This Familiar Way you become drawn to the song’s narrative and the lyrics tell a story with the song’s pace adding to the tension that is created.
There’s a real essence of Musical Theatre that grabs you on What’s Out There. Her voice goes from powerful notes that scream of emotion and torment, to the softest words followed by several dramatic instrumentals. Her vocals continue to shine in Wakes and One Way Out, whilst title track Outlaster completes the album with the soft, haunting vocals that become more familiar the more you listen to these ten gems of music.