(updated 24 April 2006) Nicola Hitchcock's long-awaited solo album arrived in the spring of 2005. Her last solo offering was A Bowl of Chalk in 1993. The new album is is entitled Passive Aggressive (Tempted (UK) 001, 2005). Many of our readers will be familiar with Nicola's vocals from her part in the Mandalay duo (feature). Learn even more about the new album in our all new interview.
While we have had brief fixes of her Nicola's vocal work since Mandalay was disbanded, her new album--including tracks from collaborations over the past couple of years and new material--delivers the emotionally-rich vibrato-laden vocals that the gorgeous singer is noted for. Arrangements are largely downbeat electronic instrumentals and require significant auditory introspection to appreciate to their fullest. Occassional brass and woodwind textures add flavor and depth to the album.
The emotion in Nicola's vocals cuts right through the arrangements and is delivered primarily by the powerful and sensually controlled vibrato in the lead. And while Nicola's lead is certainly vibrato-laden throughout, the harmony vocals clearly demonstrate the singer's ability to sustain solid notes as well as the broad range her vocal chords are capable of. The songs are primarily brooding in nature and therefore are most well suited to general chilling with the exception of the dance mixes that have been included in the eleven track compact disc.
Many of the album's tracks involve partnerships with other artists as illustrated in the very glossy sleeve notes. Names like Chris Bran, Hector Zazou and Ryuichi Sakomoto are featured in the collaboration credits. Material included on the album spans the past couple of years and features Chris Brann, Hector Zazou, Ryuichi Sakomoto, Lenny Ibizarre, Michael J Ade and Sounds From The Ground. The varied sounds achieve cohesion through Nicola's gorgeous vocal work.
"I Forgive Me" is one of the album's standouts, an extended mix with vocals perfectly joining the cinematic textures of the instrumental arrangement. Brass textures and a latin beat provide a contrasting texture in "Cloudy Skies & Rain." "Feel" and "Ordinary Day" are two further stunning standouts, with Nicola's vocals shimmering against accessible electronic- and guitar-based arrangements.
Listeners will be drawn to the evocative textures of the opening track "You Will Feel Like This" and both the rhythmic percussion and soprano harmony vocal line in "Because." The album concludes with "Morning," evocative strings and dissonant piano coupling with Nicola's brooding solo vocal line.
Nicola's debut solo album has been long awaited by enthusiasts of her music. Interested visitors should visit the artist's website for additional online material including a broad range of video performances. Passive Aggressive is generally available at a variety of online sources.
Nicola Hitchcock is back, surely on the rise and to the delight of her fans, working on even more new music.