March 25, 2008

EP Review: Anna Nalick - Shine

When Anna Nalick debuted in 2005 with Wreck of the Day, she exhibited distinctive talent as a singer/songwriter and maturity beyond her years. On intuitive and penetrating songs like “Breathe (2 A.M.)” and “Catalyst,” she conveyed in her voice a certain sway — a low, sultry tremble — that revealed as much vulnerability as it did emotional insight.

Now in the process of completing her forthcoming full-length album, Nalick meanwhile offers up a respectable, albeit concise, five-song EP entitled Shine.

The title track, which comes in both full-band and acoustic versions, is the obvious standout and clearly the primary reason behind this release. In a manner both direct and empathetic, the song encourages and comforts those who may have lost sight — amidst a world with more negative than positive influences — of who they are at heart. Nalick gets her point across with incisive lines like, “There are times when the poets and pornstars align and/You won’t know who to believe in.” The acoustic take on “Shine,” in particular, strips away all luster to focus even more on the words and their overall message.

Also included is a sparse and piercing cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ track, “Breaking the Girl,” which Nalick strikingly turns on its head. She sticks to Anthony Kiedis’ lyrical point of view, thus enriching the already-beguiling sense of this song.

Acoustic renditions of “Wreck of the Day” and “Breathe (2 A.M.),” both derived from their original forms on her debut, round out the set as valid and expressive performances rather than dispensable filler. All together, Shine further illustrates Anna Nalick’s emergent skill and sophistication as an artist, if only to a relatively brief extent.