Come Down is available at:
6th November, 2015
23rd Precinct/Notting Hill Music Publishing
ONE of my favourite things about music reviewing is…
coming across great solo artists. I love the band market; discovering some great duos and artists: for me, it is most satisfying discovering a solo star- someone taking steps into the music world on their own. My featured artist is someone I have reviewed before- and featured on these pages a few times- and is on a great rise right now. I shall mention Nina Schofield in a second, but for the moment I am compelled to speak about a few issues: the solo market today; the rise of the female Pop stars- and the future of British music. On the first point there are some great solo acts about: from Electro.-Pop and Folk artists, there seems to be a great range coming through- perhaps there is a slight lack of overall quality. What I find (with solo acts) is that there is a sameness and familiarity: especially when it comes to acoustic-led artists, there is not a lot of differentiation and distinction. I may be over-simplifying; I just find that I have heard it all before- there is not a lot of surprise and awe happening. On the mainstream, there are a few great solo acts; although they are harder to find. Great acts like John Grant and Angel Haze are releasing great albums: aside from them, there is still a proliferation of bands dominating the scene. When it comes to the Mercury Prize nomination coming out; you can bet it will be band-heavy: a few solo acts may appear, yet the groups will probably be near the top of the list. In the underground/new music, there is saturation and overcrowding. When trying to discover a great solo act, social media does help a little: finding someone that separates themselves from the pack; goes out their way to be different and fresh- that can be a hard task. A lot of Folk, Pop and Electro.-Pop acts tend to sound too like a mainstream example; a lot of new artists struggle to really stamp their personality into the music- coming off as quite uninspired. I have reviewed and interviewed acts that could be replicants: you would not be able to distinguish them from other artists; from their vocal sound to their lyrics, there is borderline plagiarism at work. It is quite depressing but perhaps not too shocking: in a scene where musicians are crowding in; how easy it is to be truly original? When it comes to Nina Schofield, I am pleased to announce there is originality and personality- it is hard to really compare her with anyone else. I have followed her career since the earliest days: from performing in school halls and making her first moves, she has blossomed into a fine and stunning artist: a woman with a terrific ambition and voice; somebody that defines the ambitious and hungry musician- what can happen when you set your mind to things. There are a lot of Pop artists that tie in Electronic themes: to my mind, that is the hardest genre(s) to get right and make original. What I find with a lot of female solo acts (who play in this arena) is that their voice sounds the same- you cannot distinguish their tones from their countless peers. Schofield has built her voice- inspired by her idols and current favourites- and very much has her own style and endeavor. Inspired by great female acts; bands like Coldplay- she brings a little of each into her make-up. Before I talk about Schofield- and bring in a couple of new points- let’s introduce our featured act:
“Imagine a touch of Ellie Goulding mixed with a sprinkling of Jessie Ware and you are well on your way to hearing the epic sounds of singer-songwriter Nina Schofield.
Classically trained and having successfully completed a Degree in Vocal Performance at the Academy of Contemporary Music Nina has done a great deal of professional work to widespread acclaim.
The release of her first album “Drifting” led to a nomination for Best Female Vocal at The Hollywood Music in Media Awards with her second single “Slow Down Soldier” charting at number 4 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts.
Her featured vocal/co-write with successful trance act Aurosonic has seen radio support from the likes of Armin Van Buuren and ASOT.
No stranger to the stage, Nina, who is a proud ambassador for charity The Rose Road Association, has already performed at prestigious venues and events including The Paralympics Torch Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, The Buxton Dome, Derby and The Montreux Jazz Festival as well as supporting artists like John Power (The La’s/Cast) and Polly Scattergood. Working with internationally renowned producers and writers such as Jud Friedman (Whitney Houston), Richard Niles (Kylie Minogue, Ray Charles), and Lloyd Perrin (Pixie Lott, Newton Faulkner) has helped sculpt Nina’s individual pop sound into something truly unique and the release of her new single ‘Come Down’ is sure to place her firmly on the map of pop’s rising stars.”
Schofield has worked hard to get her name out there: she is one of this country’s most promising solo acts- in no small part because of her stunning voice and phenomenal songwriting. Working with award-winning producers and a great team, she has ensured her music shout its name- critics and fans are falling for her new sounds; desperate to investigate her thoroughly- and all the promise she offers. I will get down to the business of reviewing- and looking at Schofield’s music- in a while; but for now, it seems like another issue is at foot: the plight of the solo scene and this year’s music. I have loved some of this year’s solo acts; there have been some great moments and albums- the bands are still stealing the limelight. I am not sure what is causing it; what you can ascribe it to- it might just be the limits imposed on artists. When you are a solo act, you have to work harder; you have fewer members to make the music resonate- perhaps some limits with regards composition and range. It is hard to say, yet there needs to be a shake-up of sorts: the underground acts are showing what is possible; there are some tremendous solo acts coming through- let’s hope they translate to the foreground. Schofield seems like an artist that could make her way to the mainstream soon: start playing the large festival dates; get her songs on national radio- and really make a name for herself. That voice has huge range and possibility; her writing is varied and consistently strong- her hunger and passion is undeniable. With the mainstream filled with hit-and-miss sounds- and you have to dig hard to discover great acts- it is a relief to hear an artist that brings quality every single time- and is getting better with each new release. It is sure to be a prosperous 2016 for Nina Schofield.
Before getting to Come Down– and what her current movements behold- it is worth looking back; seeing how she has developed- and progressed as an artist. Over It Under It is a year old now, but saw Schofield in her element: a song that brims with confidence and a stunning vocal performances. From the introductory moments, there is that Coldplay-esque sound: Pop and Alternative mix together; quite calmed to begin with- the song soon expands and blossoms. The song’s composition stays tender and considerate: allow that vocal to shine and pervade, it is a track that drips with emotion and determination. There are little shades of Ellie Goulding and Coldplay throughout; that soft and evocative piano line (that cuts through the atmosphere and elicits shivers) is supported by a whispered and hushed beginning. There is quite a ‘U.S. feel’ to the song- I am reminded of Katy Perry and Pink at times; little shades of the current Pop crop- yet Schofield’s distinct projection and tones override this- the chorus is one of the most catchy and powerful she has ever penned. Lost in confusion and doubt, the song sees our heroine strike against the odds: she battles her demons and heartache; passes through the darkness- and makes her way alone. The lyrics have a familiar and individual contrast: they will speak to the young female sectors- and the heartbroken that can emphasise- whilst showing a superb way with words and expressions. Schofield mixes in some electronic elements, but for the most part, the song has a Pop-cum-Alternative blend- one of the strongest songs she has ever put out.
Colours’ title track was released last year (along with the E.P.) and follows a similar path to Over It Under It: the vocal projection and sound is similar; the introduction is very similar- both songs share E.P. space so it is not a surprise. On this track, the lyrics are more redemptive and romantic: there is a soulfulness and deep sense of passion; that safety and security- the initial vocals are without anxiety and are beautiful to hear. A very crystalline and pure thing, Colours mutates and starts to grow- the pace and energy begins to pick up. That chorus sticks inside the brain naturally: it is upbeat and colour-filled; evocative and stunningly delivered- Schofield’s voice matches urgency and effusiveness to a spellbinding effect. Taking little pieces of Electronica and sounds of the clubs- the beats and electronics bristle and tease in the undergrowth- it is another shining and spectral Pop attack. Multi-tracked vocals augment that sense of wonder and purity: you are lost in the tide of light and life. Every vocal note and utterance is delivered with a huge amount of panache and style: Schofield ensures she makes every word count; her control and authority is incredible. Joyous and endlessly addictive, it shows the other side of Colours: the paen and pride; juxtaposing the rejection and sense of loss. Within both songs, Schofield is strong and not to be trodden-on: there is no gloominess and woe-is-me; she is always independent and defiant- making the E.P. something that appeals to all ages, genders and music-lovers.
Come Down is anything but: it shows Schofield employing and bringing in new sounds and styles- whilst keeping her true voice intact. Whilst Colours is largely Pop-orientated and chorus-heavy; Come Down sees harder electronics and more cutting-edge force. That is not to say her messages have become cynical and depressive: her style and personality are the same; instead you get a bit edgy and Electro.-Pop feel to things- a little bit of Future-Beats. Breaking away from the Coldplay-by-Goulding stylisations, here we get something perhaps Ferreira and Rudimental-based- two acts that have been linked to Schofield. Schofield has ensured she does not stagnate or repeat herself: her new single is rife with detail and stunning electronics; great bass notes and stunning production values- sure to please existing fans and draw in new support. If she had released a similar-sounding single- that strayed too close to her previous work- it might not have drawn in too many new faces: as it stands, she has kept her integrity but shown bravery and innovation; taking in new influences and exploring new horizons.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Come Down: a song that sees Schofield right back in the limelight; showing a huge amount of assurance and inspiration. Clash Magazine have premiered the track: it has picked up some positive reviews and resonated with the music press. Right from the first seconds this is no ordinary Nina Schofield track: comparisons have been levied to Sky Ferreira. There is a little bit of Chvrches in there too; some incredible evocations and familiarities- whist very much sounding natural and unforced. The early moments see bubbling electronics and some seductive bass and beats- a great combination that wouldn’t sound out of place on an FKA twigs release. It is such an of-the-moment and modern sound; an introduction that seems to sum-up and define 2015- the introduction puts the listener on their toes; draws them in and creates a whirlwind of fascination. When Schofield arrives at the microphone, her soul seems exhausted and in need of energy- needing another hit to get her through. Whether addressing a lover or friend, there seems to be some tension and anxiety- her subject is bringing her down; that need to get away and find some space. Schofield keeps her positivity and natural sunshine brimming: she is on all all-time high; at the peak of her creative happiness, she will not let anyone knock her down- too many people forcing negativity and doubts. The early words could speak as a message to the music world and critics: those that doubt Schofield and her dreams; anyone that is cynical and unsupportive is being talked-to and investigated- why would you want to knock someone when they are at their happiest and most fulfilled? On the other hand- and perhaps a more likely explanation of events- we are looking at personal relationships and love. Maybe her subject is weighing her down and not showing enough respect: Schofield’s pure and gorgeous vocal cuts through the atmosphere- sending a clear message across the horizon. Evocative and tender, it is a nice balance against the early jaggedness- the song blooms and swings; there is a great sense of movement and time elapse; the composition does not merely sit still and remain passive. On previous releases, Schofield has started breathless and in awe; she explodes and expands in the choruses- bringing the song along a typical and assured tangent. Here, there is a slightly different tactical approach. After that instant and stunning introduction the vocal does begin serenely and dreamily: before long, Schofield increases her pace (her words are almost Rap-like at times); increasing that sense of insistency and determination- catching the listener by surprise. Letting her beauty and expressive voice lead the charge, she is backed by scuffling and compacted beats- which augments the foreground and injects a note of danger and fight. Our heroine does not want to become entangled with those who are pessimistic and unsupportive: she fears her allegiance (to her subject(s) is going to bring her down; she does not want to surrender this high. Schofield is spinning “out of your control”; on a different sphere (to her subject) – making her own way and moving on. At this stage- and thinking about the song so far- the lyrics are designed to resonate with the mass audience. There is a distinct motivation to the song- having been inspired by real-life events and struggles with others- yet the sentiments can be extrapolated by all. We have all been in a similar situation: whether it is a partner or friend; a town or community- that sense of being held back and knocked-down is easy to identify with. Come Down is an anthem that is reserved for all: a song that can ignite and unite the dance-floors; get feet and voices blended in a throng of song. As the chorus slams and rises- and Schofield is at the peak of her powers- the composition comes back to take charge. Whilst the bass and beats rumble and clatter- never aimless or erring into Dub-Step territory- there is a sharp and kaleidoscopic parabond (your mind is pulled into the trance of electronics). Sampled and processed vocal snatches tangle with the bubbling bursts and static pound- creating something dizzying and intoxicating. You can never predict where Come Down will go next: by the 2:00 marker, so much ground has been covered; the sonics and vocals never let up or desist- it is a song that demands attention without a moment’s breath. After the little explosions of composition, Schofield comes back into the centre. Having shaken away some negative people; tried to move past the bad. As the song progresses, perhaps there is a person responsible for the happiness and good mood. My mind speculated a lover or friend was causing heartache and annoyance: as Come Down progresses, my thoughts turn. Schofield is at a high place; she is swimming in the joy of this feeling- is it success/music or love creating this? It is a song that has mystery and obliqueness: each listener might have a different perspective; have their own version of events. Schofield is a strong soul that wants to be fixed to this feeling- and not let it go by- and is throwing the shackles from negative spirits. The track catches you by surprised with little vocal bursts- when the word “woah” is delivered by the chorus it is sharp and ecstatic- and its sheer energy. Ecstasy and delirium seem to be the common themes: Schofield is one of the most positive and resilient songwriters; even when people are holding her back, she manages to find strength and light at the end of the tunnel. Here she is hovering above the world; she is lost in the clouds- at her most comfortable and ambitious. It is not just the sentiments, determination and etherealness that grip your attention: the composition is restless and constantly contorting- it is such a detailed and deep thing, you rewind the song to revisit snippets of beats and electronics. Before the 4:00 mark- and the song starts to reach its close- there is some tempering and evaluation. The scuffing and skittled beats vibrate and buzz; the bass line underpins the movement- the variegated electronic twists tie everything together. With her sights set, Schofield unleashes one more charge: the song ramps up and reaches its absolute peak- beginning with some sped-up and mutated vocals. Schofield is the master of hooks and huge choruses: whilst not using the song’s title as a chorus centre-point; instead it is that vocal-and-lyrics blend that hits the mark. With her words reloaded and ready- spiraling out of her subject’s control; pushing away the doubters- you get that squirreled and accelerated vocal exclamation- cemented into the heavy and determined beat. It is a track that gets more addictive and compelling as it unwinds: by the final notes you are not done digging and listening- and yearn for it to keep going. Schofield and her production team have ensured the song ends sharply and economically: it allows her to spread her wings but does not overstay its welcome- that combination of nuance and tease is a wonderful thing.
Come Down is a song that has a summer vibe and a real sense of energy- you can tell Schofield was sun-drenched and serotonin-filled when writing it. Whether her inspiration- and the people/person mentioned in the song- is a friend or group of people, her lyrics ring true and hard. Whilst its core is optimistic and determined, you always get that sense of internal struggle and weight: although she is looking to the heavens, there are things and people waiting to try and put her down. If there are any fears or doubts, they are not evident in the song: every moment is defined by a huge amount of force and passion. Schofield has never sounded as focused and determined as she does here: it is a song that seems to be where she it at; she is on a creative hot-streak and in love with music- her admiration and happiness is put to tape with stunning accomplishment. Schofield has stepped aside from her Colours-era workj a little: her latest single is not a totally departure; it does invest some new influences and genres into the boiling pot. Retaining some Pop sensibilities and motifs, we get harder edges and a more primal core- the electronics are more complex and emotive; the production values have shifted slightly. What you get is a natural step and a great degree of consistency- it bodes incredibly well for a future E.P./album. Schofield seems to be at her most inspired and happy: with her heart and mind this assured, how long before future music? I know she has had struggles and anxieties- nothing foreign to musicians; she has channeled it into her songs- and has risen above these negativities. What Come Down shows is how a positive outlook and pen can lead to some wonderful results. Too many musicians are insulated and shallow- always looking at a half-empty glass; never projecting any energy or optimism. There is a lot of upbeat and delirious Pop/Electro. tracks/acts out there; a lot of them get bogged-down in clichéd lyrics and fake vocalisations. Schofield is an artist that surpasses her peers and has a sharp and intelligent pen- never succumbing to anything ordinary or tried. Each track she produces sticks inside the head; it demands repeated listens- the sheer rush and energy draws you back in, helpless to resist. Come Down is already enlivening social media- it is not officially released until November- yet Schofield seems to be at her most comfortable and committed- and gaining appropriate rewards and attention.
I am always startled by Schofield’s talent and music: with every new track, you get something different and developed- an artist that keeps on growing and improving; showing so much confidence and assurance. Since her Colours days- more-or-less when I started to fall for her music- she has built on that incredible sound: she has developed a nice edge and grittiness; employed addictive bass and stunning Electro.-Pop sounds- fleshed-out and augmented her core sounds. With this newly-honed sharpness and edge, you get an artist that is showing no fear: few other artists have such a determination to succeed and inspire- Come Down is the sound of a young woman who has no thoughts of slowing or quitting. Schofield has joined forces with Mystic Sons- and the lovely people there- and is gaining huge momentum. Schofield has the energy, talent and sound of Ellie Goulding and Sky Ferreira; the musicality and expertise of Coldplay- the way she can fuse genres and emotions seamlessly- and the vocal chills and cinematic flair of Lana Del Rey. People like me (those that review music) need to compare artists with others- to make them more accessible to the public- yet Schofield does not cling to anyone- she simply employs little pieces of certain acts. Her words and stories are her very own- and her experiences of love and life- whilst her compositions are alive with fizz and excitement; serene and sensuous undertones- few modern acts can match her sense of colour and innovation. I guess we compare acts to see how good they really are- if they get compares to X, Y and Z they must be as good?- so Schofield should be proud- she is more than a match for the mainstream’s finest. I am glad she is getting some London patronage and representation; she is getting her name heard in Mortimer Street- it is only the start of things to come. I look at solo acts and wonder really: which ones will make it to the mainstream- who will fall and fail? Schofield loves the flavours and scenes of the touring life- seeing new people and taking her music throughout the U.K. – so she seems dead-set to be an international fixture. There are some great U.S. and Australian acts- that play similar music- so there are venues and crowds that would love her- that much I could guarantee. London is a city that is more than hospitable: there are so many venues and clubs she has yet to conquer- this is the start of something great. To get a foothold; to really make a name in this town- one must keep the pace going and not let the quality meter drop. Her latest single sees the young artist really hit a stride: her music will only become more intriguing and confident. On that note, what does the next year have in store for Nina Schofield? I would imagine an album would be next on her agenda- as opposed to an E.P. – yet I might be wrong. I feel she has enough impetus and stories to fill an L.P.: show what she has learned and seen since Colours– although she may want to tour for a little first. Colours was as vibrant and multifarious as its title: abound with style, emotion and confession there was plenty of dance and epic hooks- songs that lodged in your brain and would not relent. That four-track cut was out last year; since then she has matured slightly; upped her ante- and really expanded her sights and palette. I can see an album cover and title; I could imagine the track listing- Come Down would be a perfect lead-off track- and the range of sounds contained within. What Schofield has in mind is her choice, yet there is a market and an eager audience: she has ears and eyes enamoured and set. It is clear 2016 will be her most prosperous and busy year: a chance for her to mingle with her heroes and current idols- her hard work will be rewarded for sure. Too many solo acts- in the mainstream too- seem to lose pace and focus as time elapses; maybe falter and show fatigue- I do not see this being the case with Schofield. Her consistency and adaptability is what marks her out: when an album does come out (whether it is next year or later on) it will be a bold and impressive statement- nuance and quality by the bucket-load. I shall leave with a note about London music: the scene that keeps on growing and producing. The capital is fertile and nurturing some agile talent- from your Dub-Step hitters to sweet-smoke Pop princesses; down to your grizzled and whiskey-soaked Rock acts; throw in some Soul-cum-Folk hybrids. The Pop market is one of the most crowded and closely-investigated: if you can rise above the fray here, you can pretty much make it all the way. It is tempting to settle in London and spend your musical life playing the venues and the people- there is a whole world to see out there. Schofield shows this in her songs: she is not somebody that is going to stay rooted in the U.K.: how long before she stars to tour across the U.S.? If you have not heard Nina Schofield, go back and explore her earliest work; take a detour via Colours– and finish with Come Down. If you want an artist (and a song for that matter) that sticks in the heart; really compels you to revisit and pick apart- then look no further. As far from effete and simplistic as you get, the details and production details are fantastic: each note and vocal comes across richly and unimpeded- ensuring the listener gets an unbridled and natural listening experience. The voice is rich and sweet; it has raw power and huge passion. The music is busy and rousing; it switches course and perfectly matches the lyrics. Those lyrics are universal and personal; they are quotable and thoughtful. The woman at the centre of this is on a charge; she is growing by the year; she is simply…
Follow Nina Schofield: