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Nina Nastasia offers candid Americana that's both fragile and tough

Wednesday, Jun 12 2002
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As if coasting down an infinite lonesome highway at midnight, New York City singer/songwriter Nina Nastasia treads a dark path among despair, longing, and the tentative acceptance of both. On her second CD, The Blackened Air, she addresses the vast spaces between what is, what was, and what was supposed to be, delivering her spare acoustic songs with a down-home, almost disembodied voice that's both fragile and tough. Utilizing layers of six-string, accordion, cello, viola, mandolin, saw, bass, and drums, Nastasia lures listeners into her world.

Framed by music that draws creatively from the American roots tradition, Nastasia's lyrics are utterly unpretentious, reflecting the realistic drama of the human condition. On the strangely uplifting ballad "Graveyard" she moans with a countrified lilt, "Someone told me that I should visit you in the graveyard/ Pull out all the weeds/ But I'm still lonely and I'm not ready/ You scared me when you hid behind the trees." On the coffeehouse number "That's All There Is," the singer laments her condition: "My dreams have come and gone/ The world is spinning faster each day/ And I am not the one my future promised I'd be." Then she confesses, "I'm not hiding anything/ I'm not trying to fool you at all." Her candor on this tune, and throughout much of The Blackened Air, ultimately embraces personal redemption as a powerful antidote for the dark night of the soul.

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Sam Prestianni

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