“What I’m doing is organic and in constant development, and I do not let my compositions be limited by fixed types of music.’’ Nina Baun
Straight from the horse’s mouth herself – the album ‘Human’ is a perfect example of how Baun effortlessly navigates herself with great skill and craft through a myriad of musical sensibilities to delight us with her rich and magically diverse latest musical offering.
At the age of 11 Nina began taking singing lessons, eventually ending up studying music at MGK at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium followed by five years at the renowned Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, where in 2010 she earned her Master’s Degree in performing arts. Django Bates describes her as ‘a very talented and conscientious singer who views herself as more than just a soloist; her contribution is always for the greater good of the music…”
Nina wrote her first songs as a child in the late 80’s whilst sat on the back of her father’s bike on the way home from daycare – writing about what was important to her (toys, candy and pets took precedent at this time), and in many ways nothing much has changed.
The album kicks off with the striking ‘Cohabitant’ an angular and quirky song about being the ‘cohabitant’ within a relationship. Her voice is at once refreshingly modern with an early Joni Mitchell twinge to it in places. The consequent jerky rhythm section dialogue juxtaposed against the backing vocal call and response creates a sense of instability, which perfectly illustrates what it means to be a ‘cohabitant’ to Baun.
‘Implosive’ is all- together much more introspective – you feel as if you are listening to poetry in action. ‘Young hearted blackhole’ – painting such fantastically vivid imagery comes naturally to Baun. Her unique ability to word paint in this song creates an uncomfortable feeling of such endless underlying tension, that you actually feel the discomfort of her ‘implosion’ yourself.
‘Life’s wiser’ departs on once again a completely different tack. Enticing us with a deliciously relaxed Wurlitzer riff, swiftly joined by soprano saxophone and a semi latin/reggae groove, we find ourselves transported to a much more optimistic, light – hearted place in this song. Once again Baun has a way with intriguing images ‘Fickle like a leaf’…’ ‘Obedient like the tide… beneath a changing moon’ finally leaving us with the message to trust life’s wisdom when things don’t quite go the way you think they ought to. She skilfully adapts herself like a chameleon, taking on a much more pop infused vocal slant to her delivery – which perfectly reflects the theme of the song and really highlights her un-doubtable great ability and skill as a vocalist.
Baun is not afraid to experiment with instrumentation and her arrangements present her songs in ways that always keep the listener guessing. ‘No Plans. Don’t Ask’ starts off with classic piano trio line-up only to surprise us with the entry of a saxophone which gloriously doubles the vocal melody, creating a beautifully pure effect which compliments Baun’s voice perfectly – her voice soars above, pure in its intensity and drive, later complimented right at the end by the xylophone. ‘Older than I’ once again deceives us into thinking another piano ballad awaits, then the addition of the clarinet takes us on an altogether more sombre turn…
‘Stereo’ marks a much more contemporary, pop/soul infused exploration Tasteful and clever production creates the perfect complimentary sound world to Baun’s strong, unique lead vocals and excellently written backing vocals. She really shows off her vocal chops in this song seamlessly changing vocal styles, whilst delivering a flawless gorgeous soul infused anthem.
Baun clearly has a very advanced and sophisticated musical and poetic vision. She makes profound musical and lyrical connections and is able to effortlessly deliver her ideas with impressive ease. Her sound is all at once strikingly unique yet comfortingly familiar. You can hear where her musical roots lie and she has the depth of someone who has clearly paid her dues, thoroughly living many styles of music, refusing to be boxed into any one genre. Her compositional voice is strong, and the many worlds she creates, diverse and fascinating for the listener. She is startlingly innovative and definitely a vocalist to watch with great interest in the future. This is someone pushing the music forward, who is not afraid to break the boundaries – Baun is the new voice showing us her take of what it is to be a forward thinking ‘Jazz’ singer/composer today. And do you know what. I like it.
Text: Paola Vera
Photos: Nina Baun – MySpace, Billetto.dk, Karolina Zapolska