Track Review: Salt Water Song // nicha

What sets Northern Irish singer-songwriter nicha apart from her contemporaries is her ability to absorb musical influence wherever she goes. Originally from Belfast, she packed up her things and left for Australia at the tender age of 18. After spending time busking in Sydney and Melbourne, she spent a stint of time in Kathmandu. The influence of these travels is tangible in her new release ‘Salt Water Song’, blending folk, electronica and soft-rock with smatterings of instrumentals which sound similar to traditional Japanese Shamisen lutes. 

As she delves into the passing of time and the fears surrounding being swept up and away from one’s true purpose, she uses influences gained from her worldly travels to build the texture of ‘Salt Water Song’. Initially, it is a genteel folk song, supported by airy whooshes of sound which elevate nicha’s haunting vocals. The steady percussion thuds under nicha’s velvety vocals, lulling like the tide, hypnotising the audience into a calm state. 

‘Salt Water Song’ explores the feelings of being weighed down, unable to tear yourself away from the thing which is holding you back from your potential. The bridge of the song neatly encapsulates this feeling of being trapped: “I need to escape / so suffocated / I think I need a holiday”. Here, nicha breaks the wispy reverie and the song takes a turn from the dreamy to the nightmarish, her smokey vocals turn fiery and the tune intensifies. Muting the folk influences, nicha turns her attention to combinations of electronica and soft-rock musicality alongside shimmers of Shamisen instrumental. Complementing this, her vocals become more emotive and raw, mirroring the swelling instrumental. Just as quickly as the sound intensified, it melts away once again to the raw tenets of nicha’s breathy singing and strumming guitars. Pulsing percussion returns to drumming a mesmerising beat and synths reverb gently in the undercurrents of the instrumentals alongside heavenly harmonies. 

This gorgeous atmosphere doesn’t last long before nicha once again destroys the dreamy soundscape with an intense outro. Shattering the lullaby qualities created with a heavier, darker production, the tune becomes almost frenzied. The ebb and flow of energy liberates and invigorates the listener, mirroring the casting off of restrictions and leaving the audience feeling empowered and free. The once genteel percussion ripples and morphs into an angrier and more aggressive beat while pounding guitars riff alongside evermore discordant jangles of sound. nicha moodily harmonises over this crescendo before, just as a wave crashes onto the shore calms, the song fades to a satisfying silence. 

With confidence and a chameleon-like navigation of genres, nicha’s global style offers her listeners the ultimate musical escapism. Feeding us tantalising glimpses of experiences to come, we can’t wait to see where nicha takes us next. 

Words by Ella McLaren 

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