Imagine the emotion of Delores O'Riordan, the softness of Sarah McLaughlin and the bluntness of Alanis Morrisette all rolled into one package. Sounds like we just created the A&R people's wet dream, eh?
It's no dream, though; that package exists in a singer/songwriter named Heather Nova, who has been creating quite a buzz over the last few years. Her latest effort, Siren, contains some very exciting material, but it also paints a portrait of a performer who is still growing into her own skin.
Nova proves right off the bat she is a talented musician and vocalist. "London Rain (Nothing Heals Me Like You Do)" is the prime example of what pop music sounds like when it's done right. The layered harmony vocals on this track sound almost angelic, and the work of Nova's backing band fits the mood just right.
Nova occasionally throws in some shocking moments ("I don't believe you when you fuck me" off "Blood Of Me", "Your hands were covered in paint / The pillow smothered my cry" on "I'm Alive"), but one wonders if she really had to resort to some of the more blatant moments on Siren; her work is strong enough to stand on its own. Other times, however, the bleak portraits that Nova paints demonstrate the truth of relationships, showing that not everything is peaches and cream in life. "Widescreen" is a prime example of Nova's ability to create such images.
Nova's greatest strength seems to be that she knows - and accepts - who she is. ("I'm the mother and the daughter / Of the mother and the daughter before" on "I'm The Girl" could well be the strongest portrait of femininity since Meredith Brooks's song "Bitch".)
However, Siren doesn't have much diversity on it; the fourteen tracks on the disc tend to blend together, even after repeated listens. (I tried listening to this disc four times before I wrote this review today, and the tracks are still blurring.) Time and experience are the best cures for this problem, and Nova is still a very young performer. Once she learns how to clear hurdles like this, there will be no stopping her.
Siren is still a disc that is very much worth your time, even if some songs almost become background music compared to the rest of the album. You just might be hearing the next big star, once she tightens up her act a little bit more.