Soul Songstress NYA's New EP is an Ode to Love and Lies in Los Angeles
Born in Florida, soul songstress NYA would shine in the sunny warmth of her hometown, but she’s got the kind of subdued powerhouse voice that would be better suited under the bright lights of Los Angeles or amid the NYC bustle, where she splits her time now. At just 22 years old, NYA is bound to make big moves in the future, but lucky for us, she’s already making some.
Last month, NYA released her sophomore EP, Southland, three gone-too-soon tracks highlighting her silky vocals exploring the idea of authenticity in Los Angeles, a place often saturated by the need to find love and be somebody new. Southland opens with “Shallow,” an eerie acoustic strum welcoming listeners into what will become a brooding, slinking soundscape. NYA’s voice comes in quick, smooth as butter, singing “Let’s speak meaningless words through hooded smiles,” her clever lyricism wasting no time. Once the thick bursts of percussion hit, NYA’s vocals gain the power of versatility, floating as a dreamy falsetto and breaking with a soulful twang. The song continues in this way, steady percussive slaps and ghostly synth dragging it out until we reach its almost sinister conclusion.
Next comes “Hollywood Hills,” led by the bloom of an orchestral keys type of arrangement — a grandiose buzz — beneath NYA’s emotive vocals. Suddenly, a rapid-fire percussive rhythm is introduced as the composition develops an otherworldly flavor followed by looping vocals warbling in the distance. It’s icy cool, practically languishing, but there are moments when the song builds in urgency and spins in an erratic sonic whirlwind.
Southland ends with “For Your Love,” our pick for the EP’s standout track. It slinks with the addictive plink of deep bass strums — picking up in complexity every once in a while — as NYA’s vocals are at their best, a sultry soulful croon. The most magnetic moment in the entire song comes nearly a minute in when the percussive arrangement erupts as if it were waiting patiently for its cue. We’re treated, now, to little details like the resounding shimmer of every drum beat, pulsing screeches of guitar reminding us it’s there too, and finally an unexpected jazzy piano line. It clocks in under two and a half minutes, but it feels so much bigger than its short life.
In just three tracks, NYA offers a spellbinding journey nitpicking the ins and outs of human connection — to ourselves and to others. Southland is an unobtrusive platform for NYA’s mesmeric pipes to crawl atop swirling soundscapes that suggest a new recipe for soul pop ambitions.