New York City-based Phoebe Nir releases in November 2016 her six-track EP titled Side Hustle. As it’s a True Groove Records release, many of the musicians who contributed to the EP are quite familiar to listeners who follow the label. Guitars are taken care of by Tomás Doncker and James Dellatacoma, keyboards by Nick Rolfe and Manu Koch, and bass by Mike Griot, while the drummer is James “Whoop” Coley. Mac Gollehon is on the horns, and Charlie Funk contributes as a guest vocalist on “Side Hustle”.
For the most part, the EP sounds like a collection of songs from a dynamic hit musical. Uptempo, with melodies written to support lyrics that tell stories, the first four tracks are toe-tapping and fun. The bass-led “Lust for Life” is reminiscent of the simpler days of rock and roll. The jangly guitars in “Joe!” complement well the tongue-in-cheek lyrics delivered with a hint of dramatic flair. The pop-rock “Film School” is laden with intensity and attitude. One can easily imagine backup dancers snapping their fingers before jumping into a ballet-jazz dance to “Side Hustle”. The slower “The Broken Parts” is led by percussion hitting up an interesting beat that’s almost Caribbean sounding.
The last track, “Oh Ana”, is different from the others; it is a ballad that doesn’t sound like anything from a musical, but one can still imagine, inspired by its predecessors, Nir sitting on a stool, bathed in the light of a single spotlight on an otherwise darkened stage, strumming her guitar while singing this tune. Fans of musicals might want to give this EP a try. More information about Nir is available on her official website.