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Nicki Kris: “Heartbeat” articulates her voice and lyrical gifts

Let’s cut to the core first – the album “Heartbeat” is Nicki Kris’ greatest musical accomplishment so far. A few years after her debut release, Nicki has not lost one ounce of her touch. The stunningly mature vocals of a still so youthful and yet so refined a woman, the striking musical compositions, the vibrant and vivid songwriting, and the unique style without the overproduction continue to reveal an artist who wants to remain true to her style, even if it may be at the expense of sacrificing the cheap thrills which usually assure multi-platinum sales status for lesser talents, which I think she could do anyway. Nicki has the looks and the potential star power, and I think that the latter case might yet come without having to redefine herself in terms of some marketing craze that has less substance and is otherwise bland.

In her eyes and in her vocals, Nicki Kris is energetic and passionate. Her music is extremely communicative, and especially open-ended, for it can be listened to from various perspectives and angles. Regardless of whether you are happy or sad, angry or contented, “Heartbeat” seems to be apt for the present moment, which includes social and political perceptions, as much as it does emotional ones.

Great vocals, striking arrangements, and unique style, all reflect an artist who wants to reveal to the world her true talent without compromising her special qualities in the name of trying to blend in with the insipid, superficial styles of today’s – for lack of a better tag – hot market products.

In fact, when describing “Heartbeat”, Nicki Kris says that the 14-track album “really digs deep into who I am as an artist and songwriter. This album was about me finding my voice and my assertion of how music is truly my heartbeat. My producer and co-writing partner on the album Kevin McNoldy and I really tried to incorporate this feeling throughout the album especially in the lyrics and recordings.”

Regardless of how you interpret these words, there is no denying that Nicki is beyond unique, and distances herself in sound from any of the popular female artists out there today. A blend of classic singer-songwriter flavors and ultramodern cutting edge sonic aesthetics, she truly holds her own, making her sound something to take in and appreciate.

“Heartbeat” is a collection of prior singles, a few remixes, and 8 brand new songs. It kicks off with the enhanced version of the empowerment anthem “Captain America (Deluxe Version)” which quickly sets the tone for the album. Alongside “Heartbeat” and “Rise”, this song take a hard and deep look at the challenges facing America today, while offering powerful sense of upliftment.

Nicki is energetic, and her musical passion is pervasive, allowing her fortitude to transcend to the listener via these tracks. The entire album is a journey of sorts, taking you into the mind of Nicki Kris and showing off to the world what she has been wanting to do all along. A surprise song arrives with “Can’t Let You Go” which finds Nicki exuberantly flowing across an upbeat Caribbean flavored rhythm. This will definitely put a kick in your step.

Another highlight arrives with the piano driven “I Am Who I Am”. Lyrically blunt and direct, as well as being vocally expressive, Nikki dominates this track with a stunningly passionate performance. But things are only starting to warm up on this album.

She is literally on fire vocally, on the smoldering “Defenseless”. I hit replay quite a few times on this one and just let the beauty of Nicki’s voice unfold, and catapult towards the stratosphere. And she had no intentions of stopping there.

On the opening verse of the lover’s anthem, “Everything I Do, I Do For You”, she sings: “I’m floating in an everlasting dream / Surrounded by a misty lavender haze / Losing my mind deep in your body / I uncover everything about you / Near or far we are closer together / Love me now, can you love me forever.” At this point Nicki is truly irresistible, her voice desirous and stimulating, as you grasp onto every word she breathes.

“Lost in L.A.” sees the award-winning North Carolina singer-songwriter, haul out her raspy rock voice, as she cuts through the soaring choruses and verses which articulate her lyrical gifts. “Stay” is similarly gorgeous with Nicki on irascible form. It’s beautiful, it’s playful, and it’s sultry. Her lyrics once again shine through as the song puts you in an inescapable trance.

Of course this album offers so much more than the aforementioned tracks. There are the reworked versions of “You’ve Got A Hold On Me (Remix)”, “Falling To Pieces (Remix)” and “Picture Yourself (Remix)”, as well as the tracks – “Light It Up” and “Call My Name”. This latter track being particularly poignant and heartfelt, as Nicki delivers her throaty, full-bodied vocals against an eloquent piano arrangement. Her voice arcs up into a potent roar towards the end of the song, unadorned and all the more majestic for it.

Nicki Kris has never sounded as good, as irascible yet as in control as she does on “Heartbeat”. It’s an album of compelling vocal narrative, told through the twists and turns of her voice and the perceptive musical arrangements. Nicki is crystal clear in her intentions and so easy to empathize with. This is clearly the sound of her heartbeat.

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