Heart on Fire
Heart on Fire is released on August 24th. It is available to pre-order from:
℗ 2014 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited
The album No Romeo is available from 1st September. It can be pre-ordered from:
℗ 2014 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited
Alternative, Electronic, Trip-Hop, Dance, Pop.
Her album No Romeo is released in September: it will be the first L.P. from one of the U.K.’s most exciting talents. Few others possess the same majestic voice and stunning sound as Indiana. If you have not experienced the thrill-ride and mesmeric beauty of the Nottingham-born heroine- investigate the wonders of Heart on Fire.
OVER the next few days, I am…
going to be reviewing two very different female artists. Later this week I will be featuring Little Sparrow: a Manchester-based artist whose Wishing Tree album is gaining excited whispers and great applause. Being familiar with Little Sparrow, it is not surprise her album is so effective and memorable: she is one of a few young acts that is likely to have a very big future. In so much as I love bands and what they do- the range, excitement and sound they provide- it is always great to find a terrific solo act. The guys- in the mainstream at least– have been making some impressive headway. I have mentioned the likes of Sam Smith- endlessly, in fact- but Ed Sheeran (not a fan, but people like him) and many other young stars are making impressions. When I look at female talent I am getting rather excited: some of the voices and acts I have heard coming through are among the most exciting musicians in the world. In my pages, I have assessed everyone from Annie Drury to Nina Schofield- two young solo acts that are starting to get tongues wagging- I find that the same after-effect is elicited: they will be very big this time next year. Indiana is another artist I am confident is going to be unfamiliar to nobody very soon- many music sites and radio stations have already proclaimed her one of the most promising acts of the moment. The Nottingham-based artist has a voice and sound that is compelling a wide range of listeners. Mixing ’80s synths. with of-the-moment vibrancy, her music has been inspiring new musicians around the world- so many fans have connected with it and have been waiting in anticipation for new material. Not too much is known about the young heroine. Her Facebook, Twitter and online sites are filled with photos and her music- little is known about the woman behind the music. In a sense is creates a sense of mystery and intrigue: it would be great to garner and learn more from the young wonder- find out what makes her tick and who inspires her music and mindset. I was made aware of Indiana by a music contact, Phil Cass: expounding the virtue of her voice, I was compelled to dig a little deeper; seek out her music and see what all the fuss was about- the effects were quite transformative and profound. Across the years, I have heard a great deal of new female musicians: some are fantastic and linger in the mind; others stick around for a while- most tend to subside and dissipate after a few tracks. It is the nature of the music business today: with so many different artists pervading and electioneering, it is incredibly difficult making yourself known and remembered- the sound you offer has to distinguish itself from the raft of like-minded peers. Before I continue on this point- and mention Indiana more- let me give you a (small) biography:
“Indiana is a Nottingham, UK, based artist making music with 80’s inspired synths and haunting vocals. Her EP Smoking Gun features the tracks Smoking Gun, Blind As I Am, Animal and her cover of Frank Ocean’s Swim Good and is available on iTunes on 30th June, 2013.“
Indiana has an alluring and tender beauty: being young, she projects a sense of innocence and tenderness- there is plenty of passion and soul behind the young heroine’s eyes. The fact that she has already released so much material speaks volumes about her potential- I shall touch more on this a bit later. Before I investigate Indiana’s music, I want to mention the current scene: the acts and artists that define today’s music scene. When I look at mainstream artists- and what they are saying- I find myself looking for a whole lot more: there is plenty for everyone, yet it seems that there are gaps; something is missing- new and fresh artists need to come in and fill the voids. I love the likes of Smith (and his ilk), but feel that the mainstream is still defined by a slightness that is putting off a lot of listeners. For every credible and incredible solo artist, there are dozens of weak and terrible examples of the breed- whilst typing this I was struggling to make a list of great sole talents. It is still the case that bands are pulling in the big bucks: solo acts have their market share but are doing battle with the much sought-after band dollar. The way to remedy this imbalance is to proffer the best that new music is providing- encourage the finest young acts coming through in the hope that they will add diversity, quality and balance. The great thing about new music- as opposed to mainstream acts- is the sheer range and width of talent- every genre, sound and sight is covered. Funereal and grand organ-based Pop songs; tender and stunning Soul movements; emphatic and upbeat Electro. classics- whatever your particular tastes, there is something out there for you. One of the big problems- when it comes to putting the best newbies in their rightful place- is the communication links on social media. There is still too much homogenisation and balkanisastion: fans and music-lovers are sharing certain artists (with their friends and followers), yet that is as far as it goes: the buck stops there; the music is not being passed on further- meaning it often does not reach some very eager and hungry ears. I shall not go into too much depth on this point- lest I scare everyone off- but we are in danger of missing out on some truly wonderful acts: fresh and ambitious artists like Indiana should not be overlooked or ignored. The early signs are very promising: her demand and appeal is shooting up; her songs are getting stronger and more focused- it seems she is going to be someone we are going to hear a lot more from in the future. In order to explain why, I better get down to business…
Bound was one fo the first things to arrive from Indiana. Displaying a romantic and tenderly gorgeous heart, it sees our heroine presenting a softer and more introverted number. Later work would see her offer bigger and bolder compositions, but here the emphasise is on something sparser and more considered: the incredible vocal is what you concentrate on. Our heroine feels weak in love; compelled by a dangerous voice, the serene and smooth voice brings the words to life- you cannot help but to feel a sense of lust and desire seep through. The songwriting is strong right from the very start: Indiana mixes some familiar and common themes with a very distinct writing style- the way she presents her stories and characters separates herself from the masses of unoriginal and uninspired solo acts. There are those hallmarks- that would go onto to synonymised her work- but in the intiail phase, Indiana was intent on making a firm step: too much experimentation may have crowded the song and put off some listeners. Following on from Bound; Smoking Gun marked a step forward- that was emphasised on Mess Around. Later work would be defined by more full-bodied and evolving compositions: here, the track has a pace that does shift but is not as expansive as the likes of Heart on Fire and Solo Dancing. That said, some of Indiana’s experiential touches and considerations start to come through. Portishead and Massive Attack perhaps are the biggest influences: those cinematic and swelling loops and samples are presented in the track. Indiana’s teeth are showing here- as they do in Mess Around– they impressive to see: someone is in her head and our heroine wants to hurt them just for fun. Whether a dishonest boyfriend or an unpleasant friend, Indiana showcases her tough and more determined side: throbbing electronic and quick-fire beats summon up a host of atmosphere and hard-edged danger- oddly, you find yourself rooting for our heroine throughout the song. Her voice is even stronger than on Bound: she lets her darker and more breathy edges work alongside sweeter and elliptical layers- giving the song extra weight and potency. Mess Around saw another leap forward for Indiana. Adding in juttering and burbling percussion (and stuttering electronics), elements of Bjork come through in this number. The vocal is delirious and strong; captivating and entranced- breaking away from Bound’s more romantic and softer line. This is the first real taste of modern-day Indiana: big and changing electronic beats crackle and sizzle; Trip-Hop and Dance elements combine to create an evocative and hugely atmospheric track. The track contains a catchy and unforgettable chorus; Indiana’s voice firm as she asks “Don’t you wanna mess around?.” The biggest shift from Bound– aside from the sound- is the themes of the song. Our heroine lets it be known that suffering completes her; she has vengeance on her mind: perhaps a no-good man has playing around too much and is prime for a downfall- the conviction that is displayed throughout is infectious. A bolder and more emphatic cut, our heroine develops superbly from her debut- the quality is still as high and unique as it was then. Solo Dancing is a step away from Heart on Fire. The song looks at Indiana dancing by herself: backed by heavy synths. and primal beats, it is a heavy and hard beast- our heroine has chosen her path and is determined not to break from it. Strings and orchestral undertones are mixed together to give the song a richness and fuller sense of emotion. Indiana’s voice is both smoky and smooth: remaining composed for the majority of the song, she wins you over with her mesmeric and captivating tones. The track has its heart in the clubs and on the beach: there is sunniness and sense of energy that pervades; a rush and deliriousness that compels you to move and dance- not necessarily solo. Backed by stuttering vocals and beats, there is an element of danger and menace lingering beneath the surface. Being one of Indiana’s most recent works, it is filled with confidence and renewed strength: her early days saw our heroine bold and brash but here her sound is even more assured and stunning. Mixing in her past work- injecting new elements into the mix- Solo Dancing brings new topics to the table: she wants to be on her own and has clearly suffered some sort of set-back. You can hear the emotion in her voice; there is a strain of vulnerability beneath the surface- at the core is a determined and strong vocal that says everything will be okay in the end. Heart on Fire draws from past songs and sounds: it brings all of her threads together and augments her majesty. The latest song has all the dependable beats, electronics and grand compositional cores; the incredible and emotive vocal is all there too- Indiana’s songwriting and sense of passion has grown (once more). No Romeo will be an exciting album to witness as our heroine gets more confident and assured by the release: in Heart on Fire, she brings in new stories and topics- revelations and personal events have compelled her to write her most immediate and fantastic song to date.
It is really quite difficult comparing Indiana with any other act. Her voice is so unique and special that you get wrapped up in it- I have been trying to think of similar acts but have come up blank. I guess you could say she has essences of a few familiar artists (in her tones and projection). When listening to her past work, I get a flavour of Bjork come through. Similar to the Icelandic queen, Indiana has a distinct smokiness and whisper: that Bjork-esque accentuation and style broke its way to the surface. When Indiana lets her voice climb and sit in the middle range, I could hear some of Bjork’s Post-era work make its mark. It is not an obvious comparison, but it is an impressive one: few modern singers have that distinct edge and sound- Indiana manages to invoke a lot of Bjork’s beauty, passion and underlying darkness. As her compositions are busy and full- containing electronic beats and percussion- Bjork also came to mind: when you listen to Indiana’s work, (her best work) contains tumbling and stuttering percussion; shadowy swathes of orchestration; pitter-patter electronic heartbeat- creating emotion and scintillation. Indiana has a great ear for composition and mood: her songs elicit weight and power in spades; some of her songs are an equal match for Bjork’s most intense and memorable work. If you are a fan of early-career Moloko, then you may find some recommendations in our heroine’s work. Roisin Murphy (Moloko’s lead) has a voice that mixes breathy and sensual tones with electrified and urgent rushes: Indiana has a comparable balance in her voice- at times I heard a bit of Moloko come through. If you step away from the vocal comparisons- it is hard to really tie too many artists to Indiana- it is the sound that may house more similarities. The likes of Portishead and Massive Attack sprung to my attention- when assessing numbers like Smoking Gun and Dancing Solo. These songs change pace and style: they have tender and calm moment before rising and swelling with force- they put me in mind of the glory days of the Trip-Hop/Dance legends. Able to fuse the most dynamic and exciting aspects of Eletronic, Trip-Hop and Dance, Indiana has mastered the necessity of atmophere and quality: her songs tangle strings, beats and stunning electronics into an exciting boiling pot. Maybe some of Beth Gibbons (lead singer of Portishead) presents itself: that same inimitable and distinct vocal has made an impact on Indiana. Our heroine employs shades of Third-era Portishead: not only in some of the vocals but the sound of the compositions. It is rare to find a talent that has this overall sound and sense of authority: too many solo acts do not project that much potency and excitement in their music- Indiana is a breath of fresh air. With undertones of Lana Del Rey creeping into the background (of some of the tracks), she clearly has a huge range and a very impressive sound. It is unfair of me to lump her in with any of these artists. It is true that she can- and certainly will- match the same sort of intriguing highs as Bjork, Massive Attack and Portishead: our heroine’s music is more individual and personal- modernised and unique, it only possess embers of the aforementioned. It is the voice itself that has been gaining the most fevered praise: a singular instrument that makes all of her songs so essential and ethereal. Instilled with a maturity, duskiness and tender beauty, it is capable of presenting multiple colours and emotions. A lot of modern singers are too limited and focused when it comes to the vocal: Indiana keeps her personality firm, yet offers so many different takes and diversions- one moment something dark and foreboding is at work; the next a more redemptive and delicate side comes through. If you want to discover an artist that truly stands apart; takes you back with her incredible voice and amazing music, then seek out Indiana- you will not hear anyone else like her come along.
Fascination and energetic urgency ensures that Heart on Fire makes instant impressions. An echoed and hypnotized vocal lodges straight into the composition: swaying and rhythmic, it is an unexpected way to begin proceedings- instantly you are drawn in and excited to hear what comes next. Backed by slight and pitter-patter percussion- in addition to a sweeter backing vocal- and sighing, aching electronics; a heady and exhilarating atmosphere is built up- something grand and huge is upon us. Just a moment before our heroine comes to the mic., the composition changes: the gentle and teasing beginnings transform into blood-rush electronics- see-sawing their way into the mix, they have a symphonic urgency and rush that catches you by surprise- as your mind and brain are transposing one another, the first words are uttered. Indiana is in a buoyant and positive mood (“I really wanna make this happen“). Her vocal is soothed and romantic: tiny flickers of lust come through a sound that is confident and meaningful- it seems that she wants to take the fall. My first impressions concern romance and longing love: it appears a brave and huge step- committing to this person- but she is ready and prepared to do so- clearly they mean a great deal to her. The words are delineated with consideration for mood and emotion: the pace is slowed to allow each word to come through with clarity; there is a pause between lines to allow reflection and absorption- a sense of restraint and calm mandate the opening moments. After this interval, percussion explosions are laid in: the composition gets heavier and more weighted- that echoed intro. comes back in to add to proceedings- as Indiana continues her story. Whatever is at stake is clearly causing her to hesitate and refrain. It appears that she needs necessary courage and commitment to enter the relationship: she starts to doubt her own strength and it seems that her nerves are on edge. Hesitancy and procrastination come to the fore- the repetition of the words “If only I…” beautifully highlight the sense of trepidation and uncertainty. Our heroine has a lot of determination and assuredness: something is causing her to resist and play it safe- maybe there is too much to lose if things go wrong. The song not only wins you over with the honesty and openness of the words: the composition and sound get inside of your heart and make the blood lust. Gorgeous and well-considered notes mix with backing vocals; pulsing electronic beats nestle alongside swelling undercurrents. Before the song (once more) expands and rushes, our heroine lets her voice whisper: imploring not to be pushed, she is close to the edge- it appears that one false move could ruin everything. Your mind instantly assumes love is being related to- it seems the most obvious interpretation- yet there could be another meaning: the nature of ambition and making your way in the world. Perhaps referencing music and her dreams, I sensed there may be several different meanings to Indiana’s heartfelt words. It is clear that a great deal of passion is in her soul. As she tries to step away from the ledge, the composition fizzes and crashes once more: the electronics and percussion expand and cannibalise- Indiana is in the mix and trying to stay afloat. Keeping her vocal impressively strong and focused; with every heartbeat “I’m falling“- maybe the fact that she is watching her love from the sidelines is causing her much chagrin and pain. Every Indiana song is instilled with conviction and power: here she reaches new highs as the music augments and overwhelms- among a wave of sonics, our heroine is trying to swim against the tide it seems. Building her mantra of heartache to the skies, the melody resonates and compels the listener: providing emotive backing vocals, the sense of loss and anxiety makes the mood almost palpable. The enthused and sun-kissed essence (of the electronics) keep affairs from becoming too heavy and repressed: they beautifully balance Indiana’s vocals and create a harmonious whole. Before the next verse arrives, your mind gets drawn to some nice details: skipping and sparring electronic touches create speed and franticness; the levelled and firm percussion acts as an audible heartbeat; the entire composition represents her state of mind and state of body- not only adding conviction but making sure the listener is drawn in and on her side. After the unforgettably striking words that have come before, the composition is taken down: our heroine’s voice becomes calmed and solid once more- the storm has passed and she is trying to keep going. The complicated and pernicious nature of her desires is tearing her up inside. Perhaps people are pushing her into this romance too firm; maybe her logic is holding her back- whatever the scenario, it is taking its effects on her body. When our heroine sings “I’m losing my convictions“; you sense some resignation and regret in her voice: in the early stages she was impassioned and ambitious; now maybe reality is coming on too strongly- the listener instinctively wants to hear more (to see if she can find a solution). On the brink of completely losing her mind- you get the impression it is not pure metaphor- Indiana keeps her voice romantic and tender: she has not given up on her desires and will not let the strain show. With a suitably atmospheric composition- backing up her outpourings- words such as “The first fall is the deepest” strike hard- those particular sentiments probably stand out above all else. Whether this particular love is her first real one- or if she is recalling her first genuine love- it appears to have affected her thoughts. When she sings the line “The deepest I know“; a sadness and sigh creeps into her voice- our heroine has perhaps already lost quite a large chunk of herself in the battle. There is a war between her heart and her head: the former is making her fall hard and fast; the latter is trying to keep her in tact and sane- I get the impression when saying the words “I’m falling“; it can either refer to falling in love- or falling emotionally. The intelligence and simplicity of the lyrics ensure that an ember of ambiguity come into play: whether each heartbeat increases her love; if it causes her downfall, it is on a see-saw and knife-edge- the vocal is impassioned enough to suggest that it could be either. Towards the final stages, more intrigue and insight are proved by our heroine: the next coda does not have a huge energy; instead it is elongated and precise- Indiana has some sage and pressing words. Advising- I would imagine her friends and family- to leave her heart on fire, she wants them to “Read between the lines“- perhaps the message wasn’t clear when she was telling them before. Once more, the language is direct and tantalising: I was wondering if there were doubts or hidden thoughts in her mind- if something deeper was not recognisable in her facade. Throughout the song you could sense that either side of desire is being referenced: whether the fire is caused by burning longing or heartbreak- it keeps you guessing and in two minds through the duration of the track. As our heroine lets it be known that she is flying, your mind errs towards avenues of contentment: perhaps whatever is being felt and experienced is what she wants; it is causing her some hurt but is a feeling she cannot ignore. The anonymous object of her affections imbues her voice with a degree of coquettishness and serenity: among scenes of internal strife, tremulousness and smile does pervade- the vocal in the chorus is instilled with plenty of breathlessness. While the final notes die out- and that chorus keeps going- you cannot stop our heroine: her heartbeat is ticking; she is falling ever further- you wonder whether she gained the satisfaction she craved…
Before I applaud Indiana herself, I will mention a couple of necessary points. Heart on Fire has a great traditional and current feel to it. Lighter and more romantic than previous numbers, it shows elements of early cuts like Bound. Since her embryonic days, Indiana has seen her confidence and ambitions grow and expand: here she manages to instill aspects of all her previous work- the upbeat energy is here; darker and more introverted tones remain; those fascinating and direct lyrics come thorough emphatically. With touches of modern-day Pop icons like Ellie Goulding- I could hear some of her voice in Heart on Fire– it is a track that is sure to inspire dance floors and clubs- in addition to armies of old and new fans. The song has a openess and universality that means it is not just restricted to sweaty night-time arenas: there is a sunshine energy that means it is just as suitable for the beaches and open roads as it is quiet bedrooms. Indiana has written a song that will be relevant to all ages and types of music-lover- it is not solely for young women. It connected with me because of the sheer passion and conviction being provided: every word came across as raw and stirring- I was keen for a happy resolution by the very end. Zane Lowe has already made the track his ‘Hottest Record of the Week’ on BBC Radio One: he doesn’t always make wise choices; here he is spot-on. As suitable and appropriate as it is for Radio One, it has enough quality and range that means Radio Two would eat it up- smaller stations like Capital, XFM and Kiss would too. If you can write a song that is that effective and mobile, then you are onto something rather special- Indiana has unveiled her most ubiquitous and memorable song to date. There are a lot of different reasons why Heart on Fire sticks in the imagination: the alluring and passionate heroine provides nearly all of them. I have been in love with Indiana’s voice ever since I heard it- as recently as a few weeks ago. Being familiar with some of her back story, Heart on Fire brings the young artist another step forward: the track provides a fascinating glimpse into her future album release. Too many contemporaries do not possess the necessary beauty, firepower and passion in their voice: through Heart on Fire, our heroine compels and seduces with ample ease. Many young listeners will be able to empathise with the story- and recognise the vocal sound- and fully get on board- for everybody else, it is the overall composition that wins you over. The voice is an emphatic and unforgettable centre- the way it is supported and highlighted is incredibly effective. Keen not to make it too thin or overpowering, it offers just the right amount of balance and energy- neither the vocal or composition sit too high in the mix. Filled with fantastic details and plenty of layers, the track needs repeated listens- for its full potential and beauty to be recognised. Elements of modern Pop/Dance blend with Trip-Hop, Dance, Experimental and Electronic: stirred into a fantastically rich song, it certainly leaves its mark. There is catchiness and fantastic hooks that run through the song: the chorus is impossible to shake; the driving and colourful compositions makes you smile and sing- by the time the track comes to the end, your body and vocal chords are pretty fatigued. Ordinarily I would not seek out a song like Heart on Fire– if someone described it to me. Being familiar with the mainstream and the type of music being produced, few acts manage to make any sort of memorable movements- it would be foolhardy to ignore a fantastic song without listening to it. The likes of Laurel and Ivy & Gold are fronting some of this country’s most sensational and impressive singers. Indiana not only wins you over with her fantastic and emotive portrayals, but her overall songwriting: a clear maturity and gift for melody is evident. Heart on Fire– in anyone else’s hands- would have been a lugubrious and sentimental cast-off: here it is an assured and nuanced gem that is going to get many people hotly excited (for the release of her album, No Romeo). Clearly Indiana has experienced her share of crushes, lost loves, unrequited desires and personal pains: the way she adapts and channels them into music is stunning.
After listening to Heart on Fire, I have been compelled to closely study Indiana’s past work. Being so young, one would expect a certain sense of naivety or inexperience to come through in her music: this is far from the case; every track she has produced has been instilled with confidence, bravery and a strong and determined voice. The vocal aspect is a very important facet: it is something that is focused on massively; it seems to be the defining mark of any truly great talent- so few live up to their potential or give the public something truly captivating. There is something about Indiana’s voice that is hard to ignore and forget: a sense of beauty and wonder come through; an underlying power and passion makes her words so elementary and urgent- she seems to be the genuine article. It is not just the voice that is so mesmerising: the lyrics and tracks have an intelligence and individuality that sets her aside from her contemporaries. Up until now, Indiana’s E.P.s have consisted of a single(s), accompanied by remixes of said song(s)- it would be great to see something more fully fledged in the near-future. The talent and determination Indiana shows hints at a young artist with a lot to say: a five or six-track E.P./L.P. would showcase different sides and stories- highlight just how striking an act she truly is. For anyone looking for that necessary resolution, you will not have to wait too long: her debut album No Romeo is out on September 1st. In addition to containing the previous hit single Solo Dancing– and other previous tracks- it will be terrific to hear what Indiana has on her mind: she has shown so much potential already and I expect a diamond of an album to come forth. Our heroine has enjoyed some rather prestigious and exciting dates lately- she has performed at Wireless (in London and Birmingham). In future weeks she will be taking on Camp Bestival and Leopalooza Festival: that sets up her biggest ever gigs- performing at Reading and Leeds. The video for Heart on Fire seems to have been a ball: it shows Indiana as an undercover D.E.A. agent- cocking her gun, she is positively bad-ass. She is having a great deal of fun with music: in love with recording, filming and performing; that natural charm and happiness comes through in the music- underpinned by a soulfulness and tender longing, Indiana is going to be one of the most important artists to watch (next year). I shall leave you be in a second, but just need to end with one point: female solo artists. There are plenty out there at the moment, you see: depending on your tastes and preferences, you are pretty well-stocked- the trouble is, too many of them are short-lived and temporary. Indiana not only has the ammunition to enjoy a long and memorable music career, but plenty of range and difference in her music: she does not simply stick to a rigid sound and one-dimensional construct. Filled with love, life, vivid imagery, heartache and positivity; there is a wealth of information and passion in every track: No Romeo is likely to cement her reputation as one of the most potent female talents in the country. In the U.S., Indiana is The Hoosier State: the 38th most populus state (in terms of area), with a rich and diverse economy- other states offer more, alas. Indiana the Artist is Nottingham’s proud daughter: few other acts provide more fascination and potential- in terms of competition, she is pretty high up the list right now. Heart on Fire is a stunning track that showcases a fervent and ambitious young woman: someone whom wants to succeed and play music for as long as is possible. Having witnessed- in the music mainstream- plenty of terrific band-produced albums; some great solo works (mostly male)- I find myself yearning for something different. If you are unfamiliar with Indiana; if you have only heard one or two of her tracks, make sure you let (the full extent of her entrancing voice) allure and seduce. The gorgeous 27-year-old is not going to be a relative secret for too much longer…
THAT is a fact.
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