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Nina Nastasia

Nina Nastasia is a singer and songwriter who has created a distinctive, emotionally powerful body of work that has roots in folk and Americana, but with a dark, Gothic sensibility. Nastasia's performances are built around her acoustic guitar, usually with arrangements that use spare string sections and minimalistic, dynamic percussion to complement her lyrics, which are intensely personal and unpretentiously literate, as her vocals strike a remarkable balance between delicacy and strength. 2002's The Blackened Air, Nastasia's second album, displayed the full range of her talent and the unique sound she and her accompanists conjured in the studio. She found a valuable musical ally in Jim White, and they created a collaborative LP, 2007's You Follow Me, that made the most of their creative interplay. After stepping away from music for over a decade, she returned in 2022 with Riderless Horse, a spare guitar-and-vocal set created in the wake of a major personal upheaval. Nina Nastasia was born in Los Angeles, California on May 13, 1966. She grew up listening to her parents' record collection, which favored jazz, folk, and pop sounds ranging from Edith Piaf to Judy Collins to Billie Holiday to the Beatles. Her grandfather was a composer, while her aunt sang jazz. Nina studied piano as a child, but had only a passing interest in music history, preferring to express her creativity by writing short stories. When she was 25, after relocating to New York City, she began learning guitar and took up songwriting, with her years living in California informing much of her work. Guided by her partner Kennan Gudjonsson, Nastasia took the cream of six years writing into the studio with a handful of musicians, with Steve Albini recording the sessions. Dogs was released in 2000 through Gudjonsson's Socialist Records label, and it attracted positive reviews, bolstered by Albini's praise of her music in the press. Albini passed a copy of the disc to influential British disc jockey John Peel, who played cuts from Dogs on his BBC radio show and invited Nastasia to record a live performance for broadcast. On the strength of Dogs, Nastasia was signed to the American independent label Touch & Go, which issued her sophomore LP, The Blackened Air, in 2002. Once again recorded by Albini, it was a more elaborately conceived work and became another hit with critics, and she developed a small but intensely passionate fan following. A shorter and more spontaneous effort, Run to Ruin, appeared in 2003; recorded in France, the backing band included drummer Jim White, known for his work with the Dirty Three and Nick Cave. White would also appear on 2006's On Leaving, which was Nastasia's first release for the U.K.-based FatCat label, and the two enjoyed working together so much that they recorded a collaborative album, 2007's You Follow Me, with Nastasia's guitar and White's percussion the only accompaniment for her vocals. Three different studio ensembles – a string quartet, a brass and woodwind ensemble, and a guitar/bass/drums trio – worked with Nastasia on 2010's Outlaster. It was her most ambitious work to date, and would close the door on the first era of her career. Gudjonsson was the uncredited producer on most of her albums, he worked up the arrangements, and chose the musicians who would accompany her. Nastasia's relationship with him had become difficult and dysfunctional, and she told him she was leaving him. The following day, Gudjonsson committed suicide. Struggling with shock and guilt, she began writing songs again to make sense of the complex emotions she experienced. In 2021, she set up a recording space in a guesthouse in Esopus, New York, with Steve Albini and Greg Norman serving as engineers. They recorded a dozen new songs, with Nastasia's acoustic guitar was the only accompaniment for her vocals. The recordings formed the album Riderless Horse, which was issued by Temporary Residence Records in July 2022.
© Mark Deming /TiVo


13 album(s) • Sorted by Bestseller

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