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Artist: Amber Nichols
Album Title: Oh My Lullaby
Amber Nichols provides a much needed escape or vacation from life’s troubles for the few short minutes spent together on her debut EP Oh My Lullaby. Her soft voice, tender orchestrations and creative lyrics are all equally beautiful.
Setting the serene mood is “Apple Tree” with its peaceful piano and cello opener. The full production and bonnie references to daisy chains and blossom queens is lovely. Nichols makes excellent use of the background vocals and the gentle flute lilt at the end of each phrase is adorable.
In keeping with the nature references, “Hello Winter” is the companion song to the former. While “Apple Tree” was bursting with the gaiety of springtime, this second song is a definite change in both mood and season. Like the leave-ridden trees, the song is starker. Nichols does a fantastic job of portraying both a feeling of despair and hope as she sings, “Hello winter / hello grey skies… / but I’ll keep on till the thaw.”
A similar tone is heard in the ballad, “May You Find Love.” Nichols’ voice is so benevolent that even when melancholy it is devoid of utter despair. She seamlessly swells with the instrumentation and the purity of her performance in the bridge is one of the highlights of the EP. “This Time” follows a similar formula. Nichols’ honest singing beautifully blends with the background vocals and she cleanly lets her voice break and then breathlessly continue over the rises and falls, caressing each verse with exceptional quality.
The title track is more dramatic and could easily be found on the soundtrack to a romantic comedy. After the first chorus ending with, “You’re a work of art, born to dance among the stars,” there is a cute jumpy melody played by bells that gives the impression of a happy dancer. However, later on in the song and through the coda, this same melody and instrumentation is cleverly modified to play the familiar theme from Brahms’ lullaby.
Nichols continues to take creative liberty with proverbial adages. In “Thief” as in the simile “like a thief in the night,” one of the memorable phrases she uses is, “the clocks forget to tick tock.” Then she delightfully plays on that theme and vocalizes the tick tocks adding depth to the strings and bells. The cool, playful vibe of this piece gives it the greatest potential as a radio single.
Adding to the integrity of Oh My Lullaby is that Nichols penned all of the songs herself. Her style can be compared to the likes of Dido and Sarah McLachlan who sound both angelic and completely human at the same time. This collection is an excellent start to hopefully many more original works from the charming and talented Australian.
Review by Kelly O’Neil
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)