Releasing her debut EP this November, I’ve had the privilege of getting a sneak peak into this musically theatrical, Presidential Scholar: Phoebe Nir. One of True Groove Records’ all stars, let’s see what has brought her such stardom.
There is no doubt in my mind that Phoebe has a ’Lust For Life‘, taking on a cover of an Iggy Pop classic with almost just as much manic energy vocally as Iggy had physically in the original video for this tune. Musically, Phoebe’s band gives this classic an overhaul with a Heart/B-52s/Sweet jam. A very unique mix to have when you add Nir’s clearly made-for-musical-theatre vocals; even her breath has it’s own character that it has studied for this track.
I don’t know that I’ll be able to divorce the musical theatre thought from my mind as I review the rest of this album. With theatrical chorus back up, big band horns (arranged by Mac Gollehon), and Phoebe’s Wicked-esque vocals and brief spoken word interlude, ‘Joe‘ takes the brunt of this musical number, seemingly about a breakup as huge as the song itself: certainly a good match in this respect.
Cut to a rock musical scene all about ‘Film School‘, and get a lesson in composition by Ms. Phoebe Nir. A devilishly seductive number, one wouldn’t expect the peppy beat, and the rock organ riding shotgun to the piece like the old ‘I’ve-got-forty-years-on-the-job’ supporting lead in a buddy cop film feel. But in spite of this upbeat throwback, Nir pulls one in with her libidinous breath work, only to have the cold shower cacophony of actors, directors, and producers bantering and shouting as bridge to the final chorus.
I have to say I’m a fan of Phoebe’s ‘Side Hustle‘, complete with another big horn opening, and some great key work from Nick Rolfe. Perhaps the furthest from a musical number, I happen to picture a classy lounge setting for this piece. More than anything, like a playwright should be able to, Nir draws one in with great character, and she knows how to put an image into your mind, and it’s no small thing to have Charlie Funk wailing on the out chorus run.
I don’t want to suggest that there are ‘Broken Parts‘ of this EP, but if there were to be, and this could be due simply to my opinion of Wicked-esque numbers (which I trust isn’t taken as insult), they would be found in this piece. Given the title though, I find the stilted percussion from one James “Whoop” Coley does foot the bill.
‘Oh Ana‘, my mind is brought back to a dear friend I met in Toronto, because “when I close my eyes, there [she is] crystal clear”, though for different reasons. A folk musician myself, I do enjoy the acoustic pull back from the musical I’ve been listening to, but my minimalist sensibilities tell me that the additional sound effects in this piece are needless, and the simple acoustic, and the power of Nir’s voice would be more than enough to get the song’s message to the listener’s ears. A beautiful song all the same.
I am very happy to report that Phoebe Nir is currently working on a Broadway-bound musical trilogy, which I think is more than perfect for her range and talent, and while I’m conflicted about this album, wondering if I was listening to a musical theatre compilation, or simply a singer/songwriter, I have to say that Nir has got an incredible amount of talent that will certainly take her where she wants to be. And let’s be clear here, I’m a fan of many musicals…I just didn’t expect to be listening to one today. That being said, I will keep an eye out for Nir’s musical theatre trilogy, ‘Diana&Navy’.
Be on the lookout for Phoebe Nir’s ‘Side Hustle’, dropping on November 4th, 2016, and maybe catch her opening act at the Bowery Electric on November 10th, for James Chance & the Contortions.
Keep up to date on Nir’s work by going all the way over … HERE!