Bærum-born, Norwegian-Grammy award-winning singer, Emilie Nicolas returns with her third album Let Her Breathe. A stunningly crafted slice of R’n’B mastery that showcases the breadth of her talents as an interesting singer and songwriter.
The first track ironically titled ‘Outro‘ is a stunning introduction to the album. A serene and blissful soundscape with an expertly controlled and crisp vocal that dances elegantly over a dreamy synth. “If I told you I loved you would you call me back?” she beckons from the perspective of the jilted lover as it blends beautifully into the next track ‘Tsunami‘.
Tsunami‘ is an impressive slice of chilled-out R’n’B, reminiscent of SZA at her best. It builds beautifully with layers of rhythmic drums and vocals with incredibly detailed ad-libs and harmonies. The second verse is in French and it flows so beautifully that it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language, the meaning is conveyed purely through the tone of Emelie’s voice which is stunning and masterful.
The third track of the album ‘To The Moon‘ is another chilled out track but is just as beautiful as the previous one, if maybe a little more forgettable. Things pick up with the next track ‘Who’s Gonna Love You‘, a slightly up-tempo track where Emilie questions “who’s gonna love you if I don’t?“. There’s a hint of Spanish influence in the rhythm of the track without falling back on the cliches that most Spanish-influenced music tends to do.
Open‘ strips everything right back to basics with a soft vocal dancing around an acoustic guitar, it’s an incredibly raw and emotional track. The vocal harmonies that fade in and out as the track floats on are stunningly detailed and precise, they left me with goosebumps. It’s certainly one of the stand out tracks on the album.
After a calming breather, ‘If I Call‘ is a moody, atmospheric song about a potential late-night hookup and a feeling of uncertainty within that dynamic. The first half of the track builds an atmosphere slowly, with a repetitive drum beat and sultry vocals that lead us into an unexpected switch around in the second half. The second half is a hip-hop inspired, relatively upbeat track that lets Emilie flex her rhythmic skills, the vocals are more precise in this part, relying less on melody and more on the rhythm. It’s almost rap but not all the way there. It’s an impressive and welcome change to an album that so far has been fairly down-tempo.
Teddybear‘ is the 7th track on the album and feels like a continuation of ‘If I Call‘ where she has made her decision and has decided to stay and has become lovesick in the process. It’s a lovely and relaxing track but it’s nothing we haven’t already heard from the album prior to this. It feels like we’re retreading the same ground. The same can be said for ‘Bye‘ which transitions so seamlessly from ‘Teddybear‘ that I didn’t even notice the track had changed.
‘Oh Love‘ is another stripped back number, opting for a haunting piano over an acoustic guitar this time. It feels like a triumphant march toward peace of mind, a choir echoes in the background and it feels like a natural and strong closer to the album. It’s not, however, the end and there are two more tracks.
First Love Song‘ is a slow-burning ballad, that almost feels like it should be a hidden bonus track. It adds nothing to the album and feels very much like Emilie going through the motions. It follows a very similar pattern to the majority of the album without any of the interesting touches of some of the album standouts like ‘Tsunami‘, ‘Open‘ and ‘Oh Love‘.
‘No Humans‘ is the real closer to the album, it’s a cool, dramatic track that starts slow and stripped back and grows into an afro-beat inspired track – it’s a showcase of Emilie at her best when she takes her stripped-back sound and fuses it with an interesting twist. The vocals are beautiful, mixing Melodyned vocal effects with her natural tone for a lovely juxtaposition and a strong closer to the album.
Overall, Let Her Breathe is a strong album and a great showcase of Emilie Nicolas‘ talent that sometimes relies too heavily on formulaic song structures and familiar sounds. The album truly shines when Emilie tries something new – taking us and her out of our comfort zones and into beautiful, serene soundscapes.
Let Her Breathe is out now on Mouchiouse Music.