Lovegaze by Nailah Hunter album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions



Nailah Hunter

“I never thought I’d see / Darkness surrounding me / Space is my only relief / Space my only reprieve,” Los Angeles harpist, vocalist, and songwriter Nailah Hunter sings on her latest album, Lovegaze, her debut album put out on Fat Possum Records. Hunter knows how to use space to elicit deep meditative feelings, taking from her New Age roots which adorned her earlier harp-laden EPs. But, like on opening track, “Strange Delights,” which recalls Massive Attack’s British trip hop, or later songs which seem influenced by the likes of Bjork, (and share a concern for the earth and our environment,) there is a satisfying soul-electronica sensibility to much of this album.

Harp has been making something of a resurgence in recent years, with artists like Mary Lattimore and Joanna Newsome taking the helm, and the story goes, that when Hunter happened upon the harp, she holed up and practiced for hours on end to perfect her craft. The wonder of the album, however, is how the harp is not always the feature, (her commanding vocals and bleeding poetry are the centerpiece,) but the harp is utilized with experimental gusto, in much the way modern music paints with the electric guitar.

“Clementines and rosemary,” she sings on the title track, “Lovegaze.” There is an artfulness, a soulfulness to Hunter’s music, which makes this a compelling debut, one which paints in a certain perhaps darker palette, but, like Bjork before her, is sensual and satisfying. The use of drum machines and electronic elements is what really brings the songs together, although Hunter’s mythologizing (“I dream of beheadings / And goose feather beddings / on fire”) is what gives the album a particular and personal substance.

Hunter’s ambient and new age roots are felt throughout the record, for sure. But they are mostly songs with structure and substance that you can sink your teeth into, influenced by trip hop and soul in a way that makes them more accessible and enjoyable. It’s a promising debut, and creates expectations for the direction that she’s going to take from here. It is something of a “strange delight.”

Order Lovegaze by Nailah Hunter HERE


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