Nina de Vitry

REVIEW: Nina de Vitry “What You Feel Is Real”


Nina de Vitry – What You Feel Is Real

Though Nina is a Nashville-based singer her showcase is firmly entwined in the basic storytelling songwriting of old-school lounge singers, middle-of-the-road jazzy chanteuses with soulful dalliances. There are shades of Peggy Lee, Julie London & pop aesthetics of Patti Page at play. Nina navigates her material with expertise, finesse & precision.

“Don’t Remind Me,” shuffles in with a samba/bossa nova affirmation. The Spanish-flavored melody & gentle trumpet support renders the tune potently as when this music made its first inroads in the pop charts of the early 60s with Astrid Gilberto’s classic “Girl From Ipanema.” While Nina sings with a little more authority & isn’t as whispery as Astrud or pop singer Claudine Longet – she has the stylization down. I may add that the varied arrangements of the tunes are commendable.

The 11 motifs of What You Feel Is Real (Drops Aug 25–Independent) waiver between the modestly inspiring to the cinephile tenderness of “Don’t Remind Me,” which has an air of Cassandra Wilson despite the lack of Ms. Wilson’s huskiness. This isn’t beer-drinking music it’s bourbon-sipping melodies.

“Bring With Myself,” is a more commercial endeavor. Exceptional tune. Nice hooky showcase, sugared with descriptive lyrics. “Being with myself I know it’s hard when I’m not in my body…” Clever stuff.

A bluesier incursion is the New Orleans-styled “Life You Could Be Living.” Ms. De Vitry approaches her material with enthusiasm. Each song is appealingly individualistic. An impressive assortment of old genres refreshed by her lyrical charm. She avoids cliches that can be easily applied to such numbers. Instead, she explores topics not touched upon by past balladeers.

Not all numbers instantly grab the ear, but they are the ones that with time will tug on the heart. Despite Nina’s warm tailored voice, hers is more about tonality, ambiance & atmosphere than showboating. It’s shades instead of bursts of color, grace instead of power, feelings instead of foot-stomping.

Unlike other writers, I don’t hear any folk music here. This is closer to Tony Bennett than Tom Paxton. Closer to Anita O’Day than Joan Baez. “Mother of Mine,” is more drenched in a 50s contemporary songbook buttered in a jazzy arrangement than any folk music. It’s definitely more downtown NYC than Nashville. Worth enjoying with a bourbon on the rocks.

Highlights – “History,” “Don’t Remind Me,” “Life You Could Be Living,” “Mother of Mine” & “Open.”

Musicians –Ethan Jodziewicz (upright bass), Dominic Billett (drums/percussion), Michael Alexander Burton (flugelhorn/trumpet/flugelbone/tenor & alto sax/horn arrangements), Chris Lippincott (lap & pedal steel guitars/Telecaster), Kai Welch (piano/Rhodes/Celesta/organ), Chris Miller (sax), Michah Graves (Rhodes/piano), Duncan Wickel (violin/cello/string arrangements), Nathaniel Smith (cello), Lindsay Lou (harmony/bgv), Rachael Davis & Lauren Balthrop (bgvs) & Nina (vocals/acoustic guitar/violin & solo violin arrangements/electric piano/percussion/harmony & bgv).

CD cover photography by Joseph Ross. The 43-minute CD @ Amazon + Bandcamp +

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