Nina Nastasia

Yes, there's a whole world of music out there besides Patty.

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Postby keith from ny » Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:08 pm

I listened to Dogs driving home tonight (it had been over two days!) and realized I had gotten so totally sucked into The Blackened Air that I was guilty of some overgeneralization above about Nina. Certainly the first album is more melodious and somewhat less grim and episodic than the second, and even has a few good characters, although they're not so well developed as most of Patty's. Really interested to hear what she did on albums 3 and 4.
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Postby MWM » Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:30 pm

Haha, well, I can certainly agree that Nina's second and third albums would be filed under Not For Everyone, but other Not For Everyone artists like Tom Waits or Tori Amos or Joanna Newsom, etc. have huge, rabid followings, whereas it's very hard to find anybody who's even heard of Nina. I think it's strange and sort of sad, although it makes me feel all the more grateful I did discover her.

I agree about The Blackened Air being much more grim and less hopeful than Patty's music, but I still see a lot of hope in some of the songs, such as "Little Angel" and "That's All There Is," although the latter is, it seems to me, about finding that life isn't all you'd thought it would be, and being able to find hope and enjoyment in that anyway. The songs on Dogs are more like Patty's to me, especially the last two or three ("Why don't you try again?," "You're working so hard/ no one can tell/ you've got so much to be proud of," etc.). There's a lot of resilience in them, and even though they're not always looking towards a bright future, they're comforting and very much about making the best of the cards you've been dealt, which is what a lot of Patty's messages seem to be as well.

I also sort of see characters in The Blackened Air, or at least one character: a meek, timid, subservient Southern housewife who over the course of the album becomes more and more resentful of her situation and secretly hostile to her husband until "Been So Long," where she realizes, "I don't know if we'll ever be free like that first year we spent/ but I know that I can't live without you/ I still love you." Dogs has more characters, and I agree, they're less developed. Nina's songs are, as you said, more impressionistic; you're not really sure what these people are doing--the specifics of their story--but you get such a clear, visceral sense of how they feel from the lyrical imagery and the emotions in the arrangements. "Stormy Weather" and "Jimmy's Rose Tattoo," for instance, convey such vivid mental images (the oil paints dripping, the photography session in the bed of flowers, the wishing well filled with kerosene, etc.).

On Run to Ruin, I think you'll agree that almost every song is based on a character, and while the lyrics are even more vague and impressionistic, she's very economical with her words and always chooses the ones that have a real sensual impact. Not to mention, the moods set by the arragements are really powerful and intense. On Leaving has several distinct characters as well: a wife raising children alone with a husband who comes and goes as he pleases ("Why Don't You Stay Home?"), an elderly lady slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's ("One Old Woman"), and even a mentally handicapped person ("Dumb I Am"). It's lyrically her most impressive work, I think, and musically her most spare by far, but the melodies are exquisite. I really can't wait for you to hear this record.
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Postby keith from ny » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:14 pm

I saw Tom Waits warm up for Bonnie Raitt about 25 years ago (i.e. when he was at a point in his career about where Nina is now) and he had anything but a rabid following then... in fact, most of the audience was hoping he'd take his endless rambling monologues off the stage, myself included.

Just listened to the Morning Becomes Eclectic show, it is totally killer! What a great band, the viola player in amazing too! The interview was very interesting, I knew she must have listened to a lot of classical music (Beethoven's quartets in particular, I suspect) to understand what you can really do with a string section - most string arrangements on pop recordings are pretty tiresome and unimaginative, including the plodding score on Patty's I Don't Ever Give Up, IMO.

I also agree with you that the solo performances on youtube are kinda flat. And you're right, Nina really does look like a little Goth Patty! Image
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Postby MWM » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:28 pm

Yeah, the string arrangements are totally incredible. It's awesome the different textures the string section employ on her songs. It's one of my favorite aspects of her music. And I completely agree about some of the string arrangements on Children Running Through. When I heard there would be a string section, I was so excited, but I feel like the string arrangements on the album, more often than not, are sort of "strings-by-numbers." Like she would've done almost as well to just play the chords on a synth set to "strings." I think Lisa Germano's violin work on Impossible Dream was much more imaginative. It's my only complaint about the album though; I think it's a truly brilliant album from beginning to end. I just think Mr. Painter could've benefited from listening to The Blackened Air or Run to Ruin a few times.
The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor's just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid
Of the fire that propelled it to thee
And the meteorite's just what causes the light
And the meteor's how it's perceived
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet in offering to thee
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Postby marybeth » Wed Mar 14, 2007 2:15 am

keith from ny wrote: I knew she must have listened to a lot of classical music (Beethoven's quartets in particular, I suspect) to understand what you can really do with a string section - most string arrangements on pop recordings are pretty tiresome and unimaginative, including the plodding score on Patty's I Don't Ever Give Up, IMO.


Can I just interject here to say, Keith, you've hit the nail on the head with the string arrangements on CRT. I think that is what has prevented me from warming up to "I Never Give Up." Anyway, I'm following your discussion about Nina with interest, so carry on....
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Postby PCStuff » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:46 am

Well I fall into the camp of never having heard of her, but listening to those 4 songs at myspace, I just got into her. Now over to Amazon and her website. Thanks for the great tip on her. I'll tell lots about her now.
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Postby PCStuff » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:50 am

Does she have a website? I'm not finding it.
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Postby MWM » Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:37 am

:( She doesn't, which is insane. Her MySpace and her site at her record label are the only official ones:

http://fat-cat.co.uk/fatcat/artistInfo.php?id=108

I'm glad you like her, PCStuff, I knew you always had good taste.

For those who still aren't on board, maybe some of these lyrics will impress you:



You're pulling out your hair
For nothing you say to me rings clear
I'm getting so big and dumb and blind
I'm forty stories high

"Don't run away from me!" I tell you
My eyes are black as iron
I'm stepping on houses, trees, and towns
My crying makes everybody drown

- The Ocean

It's high time to make a move
Things might not get better--there, I said it
The last time you were feeling like this
You left with a light coat and near froze to death

I know you can't stay very long
But why do you run and run
The children you won't recognize
They're growing so fast, I can't keep up

- Why Don't You Stay Home?

Oh, Lee, how a child can whine
I'm done telling lies to mine
There's no deal in it all
He needs to hear

All the things we're pining for
All that's carried far from shore
Leave one bitter about what remains
I'm not telling him now, just the same

- Lee

Somebody found a blue Ford
Twisted up with glass all around
There was a girl with you
Nobody knew her

Your stepdad was called in
To say he recognized you
Everyone knew you
And said it was a waste

Everyone's back where they started
No one wants to talk about it
This desk says you were here

- Nobody Knew Her
The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor's just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid
Of the fire that propelled it to thee
And the meteorite's just what causes the light
And the meteor's how it's perceived
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet in offering to thee
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Postby PCStuff » Fri Mar 16, 2007 4:17 am

I ordered all 4 of her CD's.
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Postby MWM » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:19 am

^ Very interested to hear your reactions to them, PCStuff. Each one is different from the other.

Gillian called me from the show last night a couple of times (including during a new, different version of "All for You" from The Blackened Air), and afterwards she called me and told me that the whole show was just Nina and Jim White of the Dirty Three on drums, and the new CD that's coming out in May (which Nina played in its entirety and unfortunately nothing else) will feature just Nina on guitar and Jim on drums. She got a little sampler from Fat Cat records that featured a new song from it called "I Write Down Lists," and she let me hear it. I'm not sure I'm crazy about it; it seems very structureless and it's hard to pick out the melody. Plus Jim White's drumming is so complex and involved that it's almost distracting. I liked his drumming on Run to Ruin and some of Cat Power's music, but I just can't get into this song. It's so unlike anything else she's done. Hopefully there will be other songs on the album that I like.
The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor's just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid
Of the fire that propelled it to thee
And the meteorite's just what causes the light
And the meteor's how it's perceived
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet in offering to thee
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Postby keith from ny » Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:58 am

My flight to Ohio got canceled this morning and nothing's going out of here until tomorrow afternoon, so no Over the Rhine for me this weekend. Image

I consoled myself by downloading Run to Ruin from eMusic. Wow, I think this one is even creepier than The Blackened Air! Image
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Postby Hugues » Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:15 pm

Anyone knows the title of Nina's next album? May will come soon. I'll want to hear that. 8)
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Postby MWM » Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:18 pm

Gillian knows it and she told me, but I forgot. I remember liking the title though.

And Keith, Run to Ruin is really creepy, and the melodies seem really repetitive at first on several of the songs ("We Never Talked," "I Say That I Will Go," "You, Her and Me," "Superstar," etc.), but the more you listen, the more the melodies seem less repetitive and more unrelentingly haunting as they continue building to the powerful climax. They sort of sneak up on you that way. The strings are the best part of the album for me, especially on "We Never Talked," "The Body," and the section of "You, Her, and Me," where she sings the, "Whiiiiiiiite summer dreeeeeesses," part as the strings slide downwards like something out of a horror movie. I also am crazy about "On Teasing." It's so disturbing but so catchy and enjoyable.

It's probably my least favorite of her albums, just because it can be so harrowing and difficult to listen to, but there's no question that it's an impressive work of musical art.

Sorry to hear about Over the Rhine though. That sucks. Was it cause of the snowstorms?
The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor's just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid
Of the fire that propelled it to thee
And the meteorite's just what causes the light
And the meteor's how it's perceived
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet in offering to thee
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Postby keith from ny » Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:58 pm

MWM wrote:Sorry to hear about Over the Rhine though. That sucks. Was it cause of the snowstorms?

Yeah, there was a nasty ice storm here yesterday and all outgoing flights through this morning were canceled.

So I downloaded On Leaving from eMusic this morning (after reading the glowing reports of Over the Rhine's show in Dayton last night I needed a lot of consoling). It is a beautiful and heartbreaking album. Nina's piano parts are as imaginative and powerful as her writing for strings. This will definitely be one of my favorites of 2006.

Can't say I'm thrilled with the prospect of an album and concerts with just Nina + drums though. But I guess it must be expensive to bring a 4 or 5-piece band on the road.
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Postby gillian » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:44 am

MWM wrote:Gillian knows it and she told me, but I forgot. I remember liking the title though.

The new album is called You Follow Me, according to the Fat Cat sampler I picked up.
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