Although solely 23, the Indonesian American singer-songwriter Nicole Zefanya, AKA Niki, has already experimented with a number of iterations of her sound. Her 2018 debut EP, Zephyr, traded on the bass-forward, hook-laden R&B exemplified by the likes of SZA and Jhené Aiko, whereas her 2020 album, Moonbaby, moved into atmospheric synth-pop. Her second album, Nicole, foregrounds softly strumming guitars for 12 tracks of introspective indie.
The place Zefanya’s vocal used to showcase a sturdier soul sound, Nicole finds her stripped again to a extra delicate, nearly spoken falsetto. It’s a alternative that works effectively for packing within the traces of her storytelling materials, from recounting a long-distance romance (Before), to a high-school flirtation (Excessive College in Jakarta) and a misplaced love (Oceans & Engines). A well-recognized arc is traced – love discovered, fought for and brought away – whereas Zefanya delivers every track in an equally acquainted confessional type, constructing from mild melodies to crescendos of roiling emotion.
The general impact performs like a Phoebe Bridgers pastiche, solely with out the Californian’s darker undertones. Though a satisfying pay attention, Nicole nonetheless fails to current Zefanya with a definite sound of her personal. Maybe future data will see her decide on one.