There are many artists who make their debut release their self-titled, but then there are other artists who wait until they release an album that is meaningful to them and captures the essence of who they are. Such is the case with Britt Nicole, an artist who has previously released three albums before naming her latest effort after herself. As she says in the trailer posted on her Facebook page, "Everyone has a voice; everyone has a story. This is my voice; my story. These songs, these melodies, this message of hope, for such a time as this. I am Britt Nicole."
Nicole signed to Capitol Records and became a mainstream crossover artist in late 2012. Her signing led to the re-release of her last album, Gold, which was fairly solid, but a little too safe. Her new album, Britt Nicole, boasts bolder production, edgier beats, and songs that would appeal to both her faith-based and secular audiences, and it's almost perfect.
The album kicks off with the synth-laden, mid-tempo, finger-snapping single "Through Your Eyes," a song about changing our perception of ourselves to the way God sees us. Already, it is clear that this album is a different bird from Nicole's past records. The intricate layers in the melody and the way each sample and instrument is carefully placed in the mix shows more attention to detail this time around. With a solid opener behind us, we then move on to the next track, the giddy and super catchy "All the Money," a song declaring that wealth is worthless next to true love. Nicole adds more variety to her vocal delivery here, singing (purposely) in monotone during the bridge, "I've been trying to find love for a long time...we make it last for life, you and me forever be like paradise."
While Nicole does sing about romance on this album (4 times, if you include the bonus tracks), she also tackles a wide range of other topics. In "All Day," she expresses her unconditional devotion to her children, even though she can't always be there for them when she's on tour. Album highlight "No Filter" is a timely piano-based ballad about a couple who fakes a perfect relationship on social media but fails to address the real-life issues they have. Other standouts on the album include the quirky and motivational "Be the Change" and the fun, sing-along squad anthem "Girls Night Out," in which Nicole and her friends order seven double cheeseburgers and seven milkshakes to dip their fries in. The standard version of the album closes with the worshipful "After You." Interestingly, Nicole bookends the album with two songs addressed to God--"Through Your Eyes" is about how He sees her, and "After You" is about how she sees Him.
"Better," while uplifting, is the weakest track on the album. Its stripped down approach sets it apart from the other tracks, but this is one song that could have used a little more production. The metaphor about paper planes in the lyrics is a little distracting, partially because it sounds like Nicole is saying "paper plates." Also, Nicole already has quite a few tracks in her repertoire addressing outcasts, so this song feels like a sub-par retread next to past hits like "Headphones" or "Gold." The heavily 80's influenced "Fallin' In Love" also feels redundant as it's only a few tracks after the first love song, "All the Money." Another drawback is that "All Day," while it features beautiful lyrics, drags a little too long, clocking in at almost six minutes.
Thankfully, the bonus tracks enhance this release, making the deluxe edition worth purchasing. Arguably, "Concrete" and "Heart of Stone" could have easily replaced two of the weaker tracks in the standard album lineup. Overall, Britt Nicole is a catchy, uplifting album and is especially recommended for listeners who want to get up and dance. There's a nice balance here of both fast and slow songs, and the risks Nicole takes with sounds, vocals, and lyrics pay off. Britt Nicole has earned its status as a self-titled album, as it truly encompasses the story and message of its creator.
- Review date: 10/10/16, written by Nicole Marie Vacca of Jesusfreakhideout.com