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Remi Nicole - My Conscience And I

Remi Nicole, My Conscience and I

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

REMI Nicole describes herself as one of a new breed of artists who are challenging stereotypes and “breaking down barriers”. She comments: “Everyone who sees me says, ‘do you sing R’n‘B?’ It just shows that there aren’t enough people out there who are breaking down barries.”

Hence, debut album My Conscience And I couldn’t be further removed from the standard R’n‘B format. Rather, it’s a light, breezy mixture of indie rock and acoustic pop that catches you off guard with its vibrancy and vitality.

It won’t redefine any genres, but it does offer a rollicking good listen that’s occasionally inspiring and mostly just plain fun. Opening track Go With The Flow, for instance, kicks off with a mad drum roll before rocking out with the reflective tale of how Remi decided to quit her dull office job in favour of a career in music.

The decision in question was made as a result of a friend who decided that her songwriting would appeal to more than just eavesdroppers on Hampstead Heath and which prompted Remi to open a MySpace account. That, in turn, hooked her up with producer Johnny Douglas (George Michael) and later on with Tony Hoffer (of The Fratellis and Kooks fame), who got her into the studio and signed her up to Island Records.

Barely 12 months later, she’s now basking in the limelight that her debut album affords. And deservedly so. Go With The Flow sets the upbeat standard that the rest of the album energetically follows.

Former single Rock N Roll continues things with another snappy beat, some lush guitar chords and a hand-clap, shoe-shuffling style that works perfectly with the statement of intent behind it – “they said you’re not normal, why don’t you sing R’n‘B… but I prefer rock ‘n’ roll!”

New Old Days hints at reggae and maintains the sunshine vibe, Fed Up offers a shimmering slice of acoustic chillout albeit with some darker lyrics, and Na Naughty is a breezy and tongue in cheek dig at an ex-boyfriend.

Throughout the album, Nicole displays some sharp observational skills and a nice sense of humour that increase the overall charm, while there’s some terrific loops, strings, scratching and sampling at various points.

Vocally, she’s sure to provoke comparisons with Kate Nash, while her observations come from the Mike Skinner school of songwriting, but they only help to make her more accessible. Tabloid Queen, for instance, is a sly examination of celebrity obsession and media manipulation, Right Side Of Me, a mature look at the complexity of relationships, Lights Out, an emotionally rich acoustic ode to companionship that’s steeped in insecurity and doubt, and Soul Back, a glorious slice of ’60s influenced psychedelia that laments the boring 9 to 5 routine.

But in truth, there’s not a dull or dud moment on the album, culminating in the excellent title track My Conscience And I that takes a frank look at Remi herself and delivers some useful insightfuls (“inside of me is a Bonnie & Clyde, driving through my mind. It’s a love hate relationship that I cannot hide, my conscience and I”).

Hurrah for Remi Nicole then – an artist who has defiantly sought to challenge stereotypes and done so in the best way imaginable. My Conscience And I is an album that everyone can enjoy regardless of gender, race or usual musical preference. It’s an excellent debut that deserves to become a massive success.

Download picks: Go With The Flow, Soul Back, My Conscience And I, Fed Up, Right Side Of Me, Lights Out

Track listing:

  1. Go With The Flow
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll
  3. New Old Days
  4. Fed Up
  5. Na Nighty
  6. Lights Out
  7. Tabloid Queen
  8. Right Side Of Me
  9. Go Mr. Sunshine
  10. Soulback
  11. Dates From Hell
  12. Inside Of Me