Philly-based alternative R&B artist NIA has released her latest album, “Trauma Tales Vol 1“, and the record follows her complex identity and relationship to herself, loss, pain, and dependence. In a statement, NIA reckons that the project is “the introduction to who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’m becoming.”
After listening through “Trauma Tales Vol 1“, it is evident that there’s a delicate sweetness and intense passion intertwined effortlessly in honest and poignant lyrics. The majority of the album’s synth-laden production is atmospheric yet dreamy, as NIA opts for a bedroom pop vibe. As you dive into the album, NIA demonstrates a refinement of classic R&B sound on nearly all fronts – from elevated vocal performances to pristine and multi-faceted production; the album has equally as much fun swimming in its influences as it does expand on them.
The opener ‘Why Should I care’ has a pop-oriented sound, but the artist’s tender and expressive vocals garner steady attention. Despite the heavy and honest songwriting, the soundscape remains easygoing. At the next moment, “Trouble Fun” shines through in its detailed lyricism and impressive vocal performances. It becomes obvious that NIA runs through the gauntlet of emotions over the album’s entirety and that these experiences are not her first rodeo. The same applies to ‘A Love Story’ and ‘Yet to be named‘ These tracks soar with the undeniable bass-driven groove and luscious vocals synonymous with the ’90. Still, the song’s bliss comes from her unwavering confidence, so easily perceptible in her singing.
As we move into the second half of the album, there are catchier, energetic songs that carry NIA‘s distinct sound and have their own story and unique emotion. In many pockets of the record, NIA sits comfortably in her lane of straightforward R&B, clearly wearing her influences on her sleeve and all for the better. On paper, “Trauma Tales vol 1” is everything you need in an R&B record – there are great heartfelt songs and catchy fillers, but not all are killer. However, with her album, NIA reassures that the state of modern R&B is in a great and safe place. With polished production, raw, evocative lyrics, and well-defined sound, this is an album that NIA can most certainly be proud of.
All six songs were written, produced, and mixed by NIA, with additional mixing on Tracks 2-4 and 7 by Tito Orjih, mastering on Tracks 1-5 and 7 by Tito Orjih, and mastering on Track 6 by Simen Solvang.
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