Meet a “Girl Named Nino”
“I wanted to record an album that sounded like a live record and to present it with spontaneity, and I wanted to put it together so that it listened fast, as if the listener wouldn’t notice that time had passed.” – Nino Arobelidze on her new record Girl Named Nino (Ni Fu Ni Fa, 2016)
An air of dark, gritty vibrancy hits you on ‘Meet Me at the Blue Note’. The lyrics tell the story of people “drinking coffee, shooting their dope” in a New York haze of fog, with guitars blaring over a seemingly radio friendly rock track, chaotic and cohesive and framed with authority. It is as if the writer knows that the well known club has to be stripped of its sound for the indifference on the street to be noticed. The fast paced, pulsing track introduces Tbilisi-born Nino Arobelidze’s second solo album Girl Named Nino.
In a gem of a followup to her 2014 debut Nomad, Arobelidze brings more of a raw live sound with Girl Named Nino, foregoing drum machines and samples. The stripped down sound features her acoustic guitar and is helped by Pablo Gordy’s playing bass, electric guitars and keys (with Arobelidze playing keys as well) and the use of a live drummer (Meg Thomas) helped build a current towards Arobelidze’s vocals, making them the focal instrument on the record. The lyrics are chalked full of hope and beauty, no matter the brightness or darkness in the subject matter.
From the mixed meters in the middle of “Snowflakes in the Sun” to the gospel/blues infused “Meant for You”, the vocals are what makes this album different with its modified jazzy tones, and there are high notes on “You” and vocal horns on “Real” that are testaments to Nino Arobelidze’s ability to control through experimentation. “I Wish” is a song sung in her native Georgian tongue and sounds like something that would be used in a Tarantino film. The only way to describe “Is” is Bossa Funk. There is also the bouncy funk of “New Girl” which is something that can be unabashedly blasted from cars in the inner city and played on any Soul station with the intent that Stax Records and its contemporaries had back in the day. “Shine” is beautifully stripped of anything but a piano and keyboard underneath Arobelidze’s guitar, gorgeously showcasing her voice.
In most cases, I tend to judge records based on skip tracks. Tracks you would basically either skip through on a CD or sometimes you would end up downloading two or three tracks from an album that is otherwise forgettable. There are no skip tracks on Girl Named Nino.
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