Growing up, New York-based singer-songwriter Gracie Nash took refuge in the pop music of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, finding inspiration the pop songraft of those halcyon days. It’s this stylistic, vintage music that gives life to Nash’s debut EP, Power Lady. Matching her commanding vocals with immaculate, lush arrangements, Nash creates an epic tapestry of nostalgic sounds that are adorned with a modern sheen.
Opener “Lovestruck” is a full-on throwback to soulful girl groups of the 60’s, but with some 70’s Motown grooves. Disco guitars, horns and call-and-response vocals give the tune a funky groove, while Nash tackles the song with some tongue-in-cheek cheekiness (“Help me! I’m lovestruck”). Nash’s lyrics are filled with humorous overtones. “Sippy Cup” asks right “Would a banjo picker that’s a real good kisser ever be a good idea” as a well-picked banjo melody stands out over the lush, classic country pop orchestration. Recalling artists like Burt Bacharach musically, it would be hard to find another artist other than Nash who would utilize metaphors like “I was a glass of water, and he was just a sappy cup, filled with something sweet”.
The middle of the EP eases into a mellower atmosphere. “Summer Release”, a dreamy, piano-led song about taking a southern lover in the summer, nimbly swoons with warm harmonies, even as the lyrics dive into steamier territory (“This yankee girl needs a touch of southern heat”). While this could be a quieter ABBA outtake, “The One I’m Dreaming Of” hearkens back further to the lounge/jazz styles of the 40’s and 50’s. The airy vocals and strings conjure images of Nash in a dazzling ball gown while tuxedoed men dance around her on an elaborate set (though references to Sid & Nancy and taking a puff plant it firmly in the modern era).
Nash then swings open the doors and lets out “Better Off”, a glamorous female empowerment anthem. The strings, horns and handclaps give this upbeat track a healthy dose of class, while Nash’s resplendent vocals blend the sultry and soulful perfectly. And if you think you’ve pegged Gracie Nash, final track “The Belly Song” will give you whiplash with the 180 it takes. In some regards, the song is a little silly as Nash sings “I’ve got a belly” repeatedly over a nursery-rhyme style folk melody. Knee slapping, acoustic guitars and a group chorus make the track feel like something that would be on Sesame Street, during a body positivity episode. It sends a great message about accepting one’s body as is, even if musically it’s a bit of a goof. Again, Nash has a great sense of humor and a lyrical quirkiness, but I feel this one may have been better off as a stand-alone single as it doesn’t quite fit in with the EP musically.
“The Belly Song” aside, Nash shows off a true talent on Power Lady for writing classy, beautiful songs with the kind of organic instrumentation and complex musicality that most pop stars could only dream of doing. The EP is out on June 11th, and you can listen to the pre-released singles below!