When first hearing Heather Nova, there is one word that instantly comes to mind: tranquility. Soothing, insightful and powerful, Nova creates a surreal atmosphere with her music. Her voice is synonymous with ’90s sountracks, and the arrangements of her songs move like that of a movie; it has a message that it presents through dynamic contrast, melancholic chord progressions and the use of multiple instruments, opening up the listener to the creative world of Heather Nova.
Nova’s latest EP, Higher Ground, follows in the same vein as past releases, but with a more focused approach on a rock sound. “Higher Ground” is absolutely beautiful; laid back drumming and soft guitar strumming crescendoing into a chorus filled with piano and orchestral sounds, “Higher Ground” will indeed leave you elevated.
“I’m Here” is a great example of Nova’s ability to go from graceful, soft-spoken singer, to rock-fueled alternative queen. Nova’s vocals contrast to the hard-hitting, unisonal parts from the guitar and drums, amplifying the chorus part. “But I’m here, this is where I want to be,” sings Nova, her voice filled with conviction.
A live version of “Island,” from album Oyster, is hauntingly beautiful. In an almost Beth Gibbons-esque way, Nova goes from echoed, to powerful, well-delivered vocals throughout “Island.” “Pretend I’m crazy, pretend I’m dead,” sings Nova, her gloomy, vulnerable voice supported by a calming guitar part.
“The Wave” strangely fits on Higher Ground. One of her many poems, “The Wave” follows up very well after “Island,” playing the calm to “Island’s” storm.
Being something of a teaser before her next album release called, 300 Days at Sea, Higher Ground shows that Nova is still a definitive singer-songwriter. Just through one listen of this EP, and you will understand why fans have loved her music for over 22 years. Nova’s voice resonates so clearly in each song; it conveys her emotions, allowing the listener to feel what she is feeling.
A great sample to start off with if you are unfamiliar with Heather Nova’s work, Higher Ground is enticing, and enjoyable. Allow Nova to take you on a journey as you encounter a world of luscious sounds, freeing your mind as Nova “pulls you from the wreckage,” and leaves you in a state of serenity.