Hailing from Athens, Georgia, Nocturnal Blonde just dropped their debut EP, Smart Heart. Made up of Rachel Adams (vocals), Ritchie Williams (vocals, guitar), Kevin Sims (bass), and James Owen (percussion), the band has a sound that amalgamates indie rock, blues, and classic rock.
The five tracks on Smart Heart were co-written by Dave and Ritchie Williams, brothers and best friends, prior to Dave’s mental and medical difficulties. As the music and lyrics came together, Ritchie remained aware the songs needed a true singer to bring them to life. Providence intervened, and one month before the EP was finished, Rachel Grace came into the picture.
“Drained,” the first track on the EP, is a measured blues/indie rock tune ladled with dark melancholic flavors. The rhythmic pulse of the music is austere to the point of despondency. Grace’s voice, rich and clear, imbues the tune with opaque baroque colors. “All Those Angels” offers a slow dreamy feel, riding on a tender acoustic guitar. Infused with elegance, this tune is scrumptiously captivating, although too short for my taste.
“Blown Away” features a melodic, drifting tune reminiscent of Pink Floyd, and almost a prog-rock feel, oozing and undulating. Owen’s drumming is wonderful, heavy and light at the same time, providing a firm foundation. The soft, pale textures emanating from Grace’s voice, a bit like Stevie Nicks’, secure the song’s tantalizing effect. “Two Trees” is chock-full of folk-rock-lite aromas, once again reminding me of Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Layers of harmonic colors float over each other, pervading the music with an elusive quality.
The title track finalizes the EP. Very nearly a cappella, the song has potential, but is weak, especially when juxtaposed against the other tracks.
Smart Heart is above average, while Rachel Grace’s voice is great. Without her, the music would be much less. Although the EP is enclosed in decidedly dark, sad hues, it’s worth listening to.