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Life Loves Us

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Album Review

After any number of inspired collaborations and solo efforts in the 1990s, Nicolette seemed to disappear for a while, thus making her third solo album, Life Loves Us, a bit more of an event as a result. Right from the start it's clear her lovely voice hasn't lost anything in the time away, beginning with the trippy, quirkily manic cover of Paul Simon's "Feelin' Groovy" (here simply called "Groovy") with the same high, sweet purr familiar from the past. With that as an inspired start, Life Loves Us traces a path that not only reconfirms Nicolette's wide-ranging tastes but also her abilities to make sounds and styles her own, much like other such polymaths as Natacha Atlas, Björk, and Billy Mackenzie. Many songs show her readily singing in a strong, effortless flow like prime Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald, even while the manic, restless brew of everything from ambient tones to frenetic glitch bass places her firmly in the 21st century. Songs like "Wholesome" and the hyperenergetic "I Am Where the Party's At" sound like they could never have been recorded any earlier than now, alive and immediate rather than simply retracing the past. Sometimes placing her voice deeper in the mix like a distant broadcast ("Jenny" is a striking example), other times letting it burst forth like a fountain of joy, she shows her skill as a producer as much as a singer, while moments like a sudden burst of gentle laughter add to the bubbling happiness throughout. The participation of a variety of guests on spoken word interludes (in languages from Welsh and Icelandic to Tamil) might seem forced, but are handled so deftly as brief transitional breaks that it really does make Life Loves Us a world music album in truth. Furthermore, can one beat an album that references everything from "Happy Birthday to You" to the Gap Band to a song from a Mel Brooks movie?

Customer Reviews

An optimistic self-affirming listen... what Nicolette offers on her follow-up to the critically acclaimed "Let No-one Live Rent Free In Your Head" from eight years prior. Her writing and singing style still employ the metaphors and mumbles from her past works, but there is something more cohesive about this body of work thematically and in production. The album was predominantley produced by her and the subject matter is such a celebration of self and individualism that it's hard not to get caught up in her "-isms". One can picture her as electronica's "love child" sitting on your shoulder affirming in your ear "Life!! Live it!!! Love it!!! Eat it!!! Breathe it!!!". The whole album exudes this contagious energy throughout. The production feels live and spontaneous. The interludes which are segued between tracks express a universality through dialogue and conversations in different languages from different cultures. This concept is not new but in these times of war, genocide and mass materialism it's a welcome option we need reminding of.
Though some of the songs seem very abstract her voice is what guides you through the more difficult arrangements. One example would be "Sunshine". It could easily be Drum & Bass but it's softer and more abstract having more connections with abstract jazz. Her rendition of Paul Simon's "Feeling Groovy" may seem like an odd choice to cover with with it's frenetic, hyper jack-in-the-box beats, it really fits as the lead-off track setting the tone for the rest of the album.
That's not to say that every track is bubblely and happy. The track "Down Day" begins in distress but ultimately rummages through the conflict through shifting tempos and lyrics. The eastern strings of "Worship" are a little eerie, tense and have much in common with her cover of "Where Have all the Flowers Gone" from '-Rent Free'. These tracks unfold after a while and what seemed off-kilter and odd as an arrangement eventually ends up as subliminal and intentionally focused. Nicolette wraps up the album nicely with the mantra "Guru" flaunting sitars and eastern stylings against a backdrop of bubbling house breaks.
Nicolette has crafted a fun and joyous album. Her songs and interludes allow us glimpses into her fun and vibrant world. This joy is the ultimate lasting impression. The energy is contagious and though some may label her as "odd" or "idiosyncratic", it's those characteristics which make her original. The album closer has her voice booming in the distance reminding us that "Life is but a dream"....Truly.


Born: 1964 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s

From rare-groove to rave to trip-hop and soul, Nicolette was one of the most eccentric dance vocalists of the 1990s, working with everyone from the one-shot rave act L.A. Style to electro futurists like Plaid. Born in Scotland though she was raised in Nigeria, France and Switzerland, Nicolette debuted with the single "Wicked Mathematics" after being one of the first signings by the eponymous label run by Shut Up and Dance. Her debut album, 1992's Now Is Early showed her to be an uncommonly mature...
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Life Loves Us, Nicolette
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