A powerful thrust of piano keys joined to a staggered beat sparks “Electric” to life. A jazzy sway starts something in “Love You to Death” that stays with us well after its three minutes of chill-inducing harmonies have stopped. Simplistic guitar picking gives way to a virtuosic vocal from Nya in “Reconciliation,” but it’s debatable whether or not any of these songs contain as strong a moment as when we first hear her sing for the first time in “Hold On.” Together, these four compositions comprise the latest extended play from critically acclaimed pop singer Nya, Hold On, which is a record that I would go as far as to describe as being one of the most accessible and relatable pop collections released in the last year. Whether you have or haven’t heard the work of its creator before is irrelevant; Nya’s sublimely surreal style of melodicism can be found in the sharpest state we’ve ever heard it in here, and while she’s debuted some really incredible material in the last two years, this set just might be her most prolific set so far.
The cornerstone of Hold On is its broad emotional depth. Even the most miniscule of details in these songs, like the contrasting percussive pattern in the title track or the relative absence of reverb in “Reconciliation,” plays a crucial role in defining the mood of the music (which is something that is hardly found in the majority of mainstream pop releases these days).
Nya’s vocal presents us with a lyrical concept in “Electric” that is only contextualized by the backdrop of enduring harmonies between a nervous guitar and a pouncing piano; similarly, the jazz-style construction of “Love You to Death” – which was released earlier in 2019 in a more club-ready, urban pop form – makes use of tempo as much as it does the tonality of its instruments. There’s literally nothing in the sonic toolbox that Nya won’t employ in Hold On if it means making her message crystal clear to us, and though some of her rivals might be content to rely on their vocal skills alone, she’s proving to be far too ambitious a performer to limit herself in such a way.
2019 has been a huge year for independent pop music, and particularly the leading ladies of the genre – Charley Young, Shelita, Kali, Mati Lyons and young Szandra Mayer – but I think that it’s safe to say Nya has claimed the top spot among all of the competition with the release of Hold On. Hold On is a very strong contender for best pop record of the year, and if it’s any sort of an indication as to what we can expect to hear out of a full-length effort from Nya, it could be the last EP she ever cuts as a true-blue indie artist. Mainstream audiences have been hungry for a songwriter of her caliber for a long time now, and if any of these four songs get into steady FM rotation, it’s highly probable that this marvelously gifted singer will be topping headlines a lot more often in the 2020s.
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