Four years ago, the New York-based rock singer-songwriter and pianist Nica decided she wanted to become the best possible version of herself. She cut certain individuals out of her life, abstained from substances, and moved to a cottage in the woods of the Hudson Valley to process all she was going through. The result is her debut album Bruised, which released last week via Punch Bug Records. Lyricially tied together through emotional breadth and self-reflection, the collection of songs defines the true meaning of ‘power ballad.’ Nica embraces melodrama, vulnerability, and throws her voice wide open on all eight-tracks as a therapeutic means to overcome her grief and heartache.
“Dangerous Fools” is the first song and already a serious album highlight. Delicate, arpeggiated piano leads the way for silky vocals, lush strings, and a heavy band backing. “Shift of power, farewell, my field’s all dead flowers,” Nica sings to herself, at moments channeling Lana Del Rey through her delicate enunciations and sheer candidness of romantic complexities.
The album is dynamic in nature and each track is easily able to stand on its own. The transition into the second track “Ashes” is one of the most gorgeous on the album, offering an ethereal, art-rock vibe to cool down from the velocity of the opener. “Female Dogs” gives a nod to Fiona Apple by using booming, temperamental piano as the main outlet for expression. The two album singles “Phase” and “New Face” keep the momentum going with sunny instrumentation, theatrical vocals and glistening harmonies, the latter in which Nica debates if moving to New York City is right for her and her career.
Nica fiercely puts her emotions on the line through the very end. “Since you broke my heart, it saved my art,” she repeats on “Sneak Attack” as the album’s closing statement. After a tumultuous journey, it seems Nica has unlocked the acceptance she’s been searching for and can finally let go.
1. Dangerous Fools
3. Female Dogs
5. Easier Sung
6. New Face
8. Sneak Attack