Nina Nastasia

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

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Postby MWM » Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:08 pm

keith from ny wrote: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.


I agree 1000X about the piano parts. When the piano comes in after "I know you can't stay very long," in "Why Don't You Stay Home?" it takes my breath away. It feels like every note of the piano in every song couldn't be more perfect. The whole album is completely emotionally engaging. My favorites are "Brad Haunts a Party" (really gets my energy going), "Counting Up Your Bones" (I never get tired of it; the tempo changes are so great), "Why Don't You Stay Home?" (devastating), "One Old Woman" (the image of the old woman thinking of herself as the doll at the bottom of the well is haunting), "Treehouse Song" (the piano parts are thrilling, especially in the chorus and the sound of the "clapping of leaves" in the second verse), "Lee" (the string arrangement is amazing near the end, and the song has some of her best lyrics, I think--my idea of what this song is about is still not fully-formed, but I have some thoughts), "Settling Song" (this one kills me everytime--it's my favorite for sure), and "Bird of Cuzco" (another one that is totally made by the great piano and incredible lyrics). The whole album just seems to exist on a plane outside of time. Every second just seems perfect to me. I have to go listen to it now.
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 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:40 pm

I just got the first of her CD's today "The Blackened Air" and absolutely love it....after listening to it twice. What a great artist. The other CD's are coming this week.
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Postby RightOverThisMess » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:09 pm

I'm having a friend of mine make me a mixed cd so I can get a taste of her other albums. Can't wait!
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Postby keith from ny » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:23 pm

I think most of Nina's songs are brilliant, but Lee is really one of the most sophisticated songs I've ever heard. The airy opening guitar arpeggios, then the piano, and finally the strings all build upon one another so wonderfully. Her syncopation in the piano part accelerating into those beautiful triplets which usher in the waltz-like intermezzo where she sings

Light flashed
Life stopped
With you, Lee
Under
Bed sheets
A tent
We had made there


is just incredible! Truly a transcendantal musical moment capturing a pivotal reverie of childhood, which then decelerates lyrically and musically into the more prosaic consideration of the two characters' current perspectives, followed finally by the sobering final verse accompanied by the dark strings.

As is the case with most poetry, I really don't know what many of Nina's songs are actually "about" (I suspect Lee has to do with the prepubescent sexual confusion of a gay childhood friend, but wtf is actually happening in the back seat in You Her and Me??). I wouldn't rate her quite in Patty's class as a lyricist myself, but her images are very compelling, skillfully ambiguous, and obviously coming from some place very real and unsettling inside her. And God knows she understands how to set them to music!
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Postby MWM » Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:39 am

keith from ny wrote:As is the case with most poetry, I really don't know what many of Nina's songs are actually "about" (I suspect Lee has to do with the prepubescent sexual confusion of a gay childhood friend, but wtf is actually happening in the back seat in You Her and Me??). I wouldn't rate her quite in Patty's class as a lyricist myself, but her images are very compelling, skillfully ambiguous, and obviously coming from some place very real and unsettling inside her. And God knows she understands how to set them to music!


I would rate almost nobody above Patty as a songwriter (Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen are probably the only ones . . . Patty may be in a three way tie with Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen), but Nina's in my upper tier of songwriters, for sure.

Your ideas about "Lee" are more or less what mine are. Everything about the lyrics are so carefully placed, the way Lee is doing boyish things at the beginning ("Lee, your lean chucking arm") and by the end of the song, as an adult, is painting his eyes (although I think the eye-painting is a remembrance of Lee in childhood, it's still a stark juxtaposition to the first lines), right down to the non-gender-specific nature of the name Lee. What I can't figure out is exactly what she's "not telling" her child. At the beginning of that stanza she says, "He needs to hear," but at the end of it she says, "I'm not telling him now, just the same." It's still my favorite verse, probably on the whole album. I've also entertained the idea that maybe Lee committed suicide, which is what she means by, "As a man, you left angry." The last lines are so hauntingly beautiful, "You were a dream when you painted your eyes/ Mighty you were, like a sail on a heaving sky."

"You, Her & Me," is pretty mysterious to me. I have thought about two different possible scenarios. One is that it's three high school kids driving to the beach for spring break or something along those lines: Nina's character, a male friend that she's secretly attracted to, and a female "friend" who she views as competition. She's trying to keep the guy's attention ("Stay in the conversation") while she's also visciously insulting the intelligence of the girl in the backseat ("The thoughts in her hands are distracting enough"). What happens at the end, then, is maybe some sort of grand ploy for attention on the girl in the backseat's part. A feigned seizure or fainting spell maybe.

The other idea, which is much darker, is that maybe it's a woman, a man, and their child. Perhaps the child has some sort of disorder that causes it to have fainting spells/seizures, and Nina's character, whether it's the mother or father, is so worn down by having to deal with it that by the end she "hates her like nobody knows."

At first I thought the "White summer dresses over our heads," part maybe was an accident, but if it had been an accident, why would whoever is in the backseat be saying, "Please stop the car"? It's a very ambiguous song, probably purposefully so, but it's one of my favorites on that album.
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 MWM » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:03 am

PCStuff wrote:I just got the first of her CD's today "The Blackened Air" and absolutely love it....after listening to it twice. What a great artist. The other CD's are coming this week.


This makes me happy. Favorite song(s)??
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 MWM » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:05 am

RightOverThisMess wrote:I'm having a friend of mine make me a mixed cd so I can get a taste of her other albums. Can't wait!


You'll have to tell us which songs your friend put on there!
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 » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:21 pm

I was picturing the backseat passenger in You, Her and Me as a physically and/or mentally handicapped kid sister who's interfering with plans for a carefree day at the beach with a girlfriend, but who knows.

I think Run to Ruin would probably be my favorite Nina album if there were a few more more songs on it. The instrumental parts are so dense and well written, and the songs are all so delightfully dark and wacky: The solitary rescue operation (posting a friend's bail?) that builds into a dismally inexorable parade, the intrumentally elaborate tale of come-uppance (a personal revenge fantasy for everyone who's ever teased her?) that evokes an implacable sea, that terrifying string interlude that erupts and finally flies away with a bugle-like flourish to close The Body, and those wonderful "whiiiiiiiite summer dreeeeeesses"!

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Postby PCStuff » Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:30 am

I got sidetracked doing stuff, and just now finished listening to Dogs....because I like my dog so much !!! He is a "Westie" named Scottie!

WOW...TOTALLY different from The Blackend Air....and also TOTALLY DELICIOUS. There is so much creativity and "heart" in her lyrics and music, I don't think I can pick a favorite song in either CD....sort of asking me what is a favorite song in Dark Side of the Moon, or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

I feel like I am being taken on a journey with both of these albums, and it doesn't seem right to pick a favorite song(s). That is really quite a great compliment, actually. This is reinforced by the CD booklet. Did you see how the corners are rounded, thicker paper stock, front printing deeply embossed, and songs presented like a letter to you, ending with "Thank You Comrades."

Most artists don't take the time to include the booklet in their artistic expression like this.

I'm REALLY happy that you introduced her, and that I saw this post....and I still have not listened to Run to Ruin or On Leaving yet !!! I think I might listen to Dogs for a few more days first.

I just looked carefully at the inserts in her other albums...same level of meticulous quality....look at the glossy on matte printing of Run to Ruin....that kind of stuff does not happen by accident. The Blackend Air, very impressive booklet too !!

OK, I'll shut up now...but she is obviously an artist who is unusually conscious and artistic.
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Postby MWM » Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:33 am

^ I agree for sure about the CD booklets. They're so beautiful and carefully put together. My favorite booklet is The Blackened Air.

So today I've been listening to Nina's new album with Jim White, You Follow Me, which doesn't actually come out until the end of May. At first listen, I was remarkably disappointed. The drumming sometimes seemed to not even be rhythmically married to the music; it was just distracting from the guitar playing and the melodies. However, the second time I listened, I was already a little bit in love. I don't know what changed, (and, to be honest, I still would prefer the album without Jim White's overly complex drumming, even if it meant a solo acoustic guitar and voice album) but I suddenly am just crazy about every song (except "I Write Down Lists" which I still don't like).

The album opens with "I've Been Out Walking," the first stanza of which is sung with such rapid fire lyrics that Nina actually inhales a couple of phrases just to be able to take a breath, and the effect is very interesting and slightly creepy. The first few verses are remarkably catchy, the middle section of the song is softly fingerpicked and then the ending is powerful and energetic. Many of the songs on the album go through little movements like this, almost to the point that they seem somewhat improvisational. The stronger moments for me are the more conventionally structured songs.

One thing I do notice is that she's using her voice so powerfully on this album in almost every song, which is something she'd only done occasionally on the other albums. There is intense disgust and anger in her voice on "The Day I Would Bury You," a visceral excitement on the almost poppy "In the Evening," and then there is my favorite track, "Late Night," -- a narrative about fear and concern for an old friend who seems to be on a path to destruction -- which features Nina's lonesome coyote howls of "We grew up together! Did you forget?" and ends with a chilling, hysterically sobbed refrain of, "I may be the one/ the one to save you."

The quieter songs are also wonderful, in particular "There Is No Train." The haunting melody is paired with half-romantic, half-ambivalent lyrics such as, "There is no train to take you this late/ Was it a plan or a mistake?/ I was aware, but I didn't say/ I let the last one roll on as you talked all alone." "Our Discussion" is also a beautiful little fingerpicked ballad that might have fit in on On Leaving, but is almost ruined for me by the completely non sequitur, annoyingly distracting drumming.

If I can get used to this drumming, I think this will be a really amazing album. I can already tell that it's definitely a grower, as it has grown on me considerably over the course of the day. The drumming has its place here and there, and Jim White is nothing if he isn't an impressively talented player, but it seems in many instances he's more interested in showing off his chops than he is in complementing the music. In a way I wish Nina had saved a couple of the more nuanced songs here for a future album where they could have really benefited from more interesting, appropriate arrangements. But for now I'm just happy to have something new, and I really do like this album a lot already. It's just taking some adjustment.
Last edited by MWM on Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 2:47 am

How did you get it early? I have now listened to all of the CD's...and it's almost too much to take in....in a good way. I'm gonna listen to them over the next week some more...each is so unique and impactful.
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Postby gillian » Sun Apr 01, 2007 12:14 pm

MWM wrote:The drumming sometimes seemed to not even be rhythmically married to the music; it was just distracting from the guitar playing and the melodies.

This is EXACTLY how I wanted to describe the show I saw at SXSW. A little disappointing that the album is like this too, but I'll just have to wait and see how I feel about it as a whole I guess.
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Postby MWM » Sun Apr 08, 2007 1:27 am

PCStuff wrote:How did you get it early?


I guess it leaked and I found it online and downloaded it. It seems like it leaked really early, it's still like a month away from being officially released.

I really love it now though, almost every song. My current favorite is "The Day I Would Bury You," which, as far as I can interpret, is about a woman whose abusive husband finally dies after many years of her dreaming about the day, and she confronts him in his coffin and lays her wedding ring inside with him before he is buried. The build to the climax is so dramatic and her vocals and the lyrics are chilling. I'll try to transcribe them here:

I will say I don't need you to know me
I don't want your help, your name, your wealth
You have plenty of wine, you can offer me a drink
I'll say I'm wise to you, I know what you must think of me
Then we'll barely speak
I was young then
And full of cheek

And I wanted to tell you again and again
How much I blame you, how hard this has been
I always dreamt of the day I would bury you
I never thought on the day I'd stop hating you

On an altar, you are smaller
I am musing, coming closer

Now my shadow over you
I swore I'd stay afraid of you
But you aren't the same
And I am not your enemy
Though I lay the band you gave to me here
As I vowed I would today
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 MWM » Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:25 pm

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^ The album cover for Nina's new CD. I really like it!
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 MWM » Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:01 pm

The Fat Cat website has a press release up for Nina's new album, and you can listen to most of "I've Been Out Walking," "The Day I Would Bury You," "Our Discussion," "In the Evening," and "I Come After You" there as well: http://fat-cat.co.uk/fatcat/release.php?id=223
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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