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Album Review: Nina Baker – Quite Frankly

Back in June I spent the best part of 400 words eulogising about the talents of a young lady named Nina Baker. Normally when I eulogise about women it takes the form of an ill-advised drunken text message that is followed by the phrase ‘Can’t we just be fiends instead?’ However this time was different. The reason that said eulogising was taking place was because I had just heard Baker’s new single ‘Bruising’ and well, I thought it was brilliant. So I am very pleased to announce that what I have here is a copy of her debut album ‘Quite Frankly.’

Up to now I heard both of her singles and I really enjoyed them so not only was I excited to hear the album but I was also nervous… I really didn’t want it to be rubbish! Thankfully it’s not rubbish at all; in fact it’s pretty incredible. To learn how incredible you’re going to have to keep reading.

The album opens with the lead single from the project ‘Single Bed.’ The track sets everything off in nice up tempo fashion while sticking two happy go lucky fingers up at past relationships. Apart from the tracks natural ‘bounce’ there’s a nice self- depreciation to some of the lyrics which you can’t help but find endearing. It’s always nice to start with a smile.

In contrast to not only the first track but also the album’s great playful artwork ‘Bruising’ is a far more serious affair. One of things which I love about Baker’s music is that it’s real. There is no pretence at all, it’s all about real emotions and real feelings and the way that she writes and sings makes her music is very relatable. It’s a feature of the album that you spend a great deal of the time for better or for worse thinking ‘Yeah I know exactly what you mean.’ And these qualities really shine through here. On the flip side to the opener this is the other side of a break-up and it fucking hurts! Emotion and honesty are high on the agenda for what remains one of her best songs.

‘Breaking Every Rule’ is an epic ballad characterised by beautifully rich piano riff and sweeping strings. The last section of the song in particular which is all huge strings with the addition of some well-placed brass sounds like it could have been taken from a bond theme; it’s got a brilliantly grandiose feel and not for the first time highlights the marvellous production on the record. The fact that it is Baker herself who has handled the production just makes it even more impressive.  ‘When I’m not with you’ follows on effortlessly and includes a fantastic choir assisted closing section. It’s another brilliantly well rounded effort.

It then appears that Baker got bored with being serious and thought she’d have a bit of a laugh instead, and the result is ‘Little Fibs.’ The track has a real old school feel as it skips along as well as featuring some of the best lines on the album. One the face of it…

‘You live like a pig, you should be put down’ and ‘You’ve got a pretty face but the rest is a disgrace’

might seem a little harsh but the delivery means that it’s impossible not to smile. It had been raining all day but the sun came out just as this track came to life so make of that what you will!

‘Tell Me’ sees an acoustic guitar take the lead before some electric kicks in giving the track a bit of a different feel to all of the other songs so far. It’s like Taylor Swift with a bit more credibility. (Apologies Miss Swift!) Quite a few of the songs off this album have the potential to be singles but this one in particular I think would sound great on the radio. The only word that I can use to describe ‘Clown’ is deep. The track rides along on a sea of overarching strings and piano riffs. Baker’s voice takes a backseat as she lets the instrumentation do the heavy lifting. The result is a track to get truly lost in; it’s incredibly grand and atmospheric. It’s hard to believe this and ‘Little Fibs’ are from the same artist let alone the same album.

‘The Price That I Pay’ demonstrates the world of confusion that is the mind of a human being as they try and get their head around their feelings. This further backs up what I said earlier about this album being real. You listen to this track and feel like you are part of the process; you are almost playing the part of the understanding fiend. My favourite part of ‘What’s It All About’ is the drums, they are absolutely awesome. That’s not to say that the rest of the track is poor because it really isn’t but as a lover of rock music a good drum beat such as this strikes a chord. This is a more understated track than the previous couple and it has touch of early Alicia Keys about it which is never a bad thing.

The sound of summer returns with ‘Game You Play;’ it just bounces along. The changes in tempo and feel mean that the album has a brilliant flow to it, and is never in danger of becoming stale or ‘samey.’ ‘Tied Up In You’ continues the up tempo feel without just without quite the same level of positivity. While not being one of the standout tracks it is still very well put together and well-rounded. Plus it has a nice little guitar solo and who doesn’t love a guitar solo?

Penultimate track ‘Stupid Mistake’ features a brilliantly old school piano riff and the song as a whole drifts along really nicely. One of my favourite things in music are strings. I think when used well they can elevate a song from being decent to exceptional, as well as giving the track an extra kick, and that’s pretty much what happens here. Take away the strings and the track is a little flat, but with them it’s a smooth and beautifully elegant journey.

For those of you hoping that the album would go out on a happy and jolly note then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Heartfelt and honest the track could sum up the majority of the album; it’s a great way to finish.

Quite Frankly is an incredible listen. It includes moments where you will laugh out loud and others which will nearly bring you to tears. It exhibits a full range of emotions, all of which are relatable but more importantly they are honest. The song writing is superb and the production flawless. I can’t praise this record enough. There have been some sensational female singer/songwriters to come out of these isles over the last few years and I think we have another one. Remember the name: Nina Baker.

Quite Frankly is released 11th August

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