Nina Ricci is a very contemporary folk singer. Her voice often sounds very similar to Dolly Parton’s, but her style is entirely her own. With power and control, she filters everything through an artist’s perspective, mixing images, colors, and emotions to create seven strong songs for Designs On Me.
The first song, “Designs On Me,” introduces us to Ricci’s amazing voice in a complex love song, accompanied by an unusual but effective mix of violins, accordion, and pedal steel. Next, she goes completely country with a jaunty tune about a harsh truth about the music business, which is that it doesn’t matter what you do if the “Numbers Don’t Show.”
Then comes what for me is the masterpiece of the album, “Folk City.” Partly this is because I, too, wanted to go to Greenwich Village in the 60’s and 70’s and I resonated with every word, but even without that connection, just listen to that evocation of the ghosts of teenagers past, and feel the power of her voice build to that marvelous conclusion. She follows it with “Oh Give Me A Day,” a fast-paced tune about a day with lots of varied experiences in the shoes of a ballerina or a wheat field worker and others and no political talk at all.
“Mama Don’t Tell Me Lies” is a bluesy warning about the dangers of too much dishonesty. ‘”If I Wear Blue,” the next song in the collection, begins with a Klezmer organ in 3/4 time, introducing a song that is a whirl of colors and emotions. “I Never Deserve Anything I Got” is a somewhat confusing lyric but it is beautifully done.
Nina Ricci is different and extraordinary. Give “Designs on Me” a listen. You may find you want to listen again and again.
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