Release Date: June 10th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Voyage
- After You
- Eternal Valentine
- Patiently Wait
- Grace (Spoken Word)
- Treasure of My Blood
This is possibly the boldest thing I’ve ever done all year in terms of anything music-related. Under the advice of another artist (Lara Landon), I went ahead and purchased outright the first EP of indie pop artist Nikki Joy, The Voyage, which released on Tuesday in the United States. Therefore, to state that I now have a slight reputation to check out and be swayed to certain types of music because another more prominent and well known artist is endorsing it can seem more like an understatement. Beth Hazel Farris’s new EP was recommended and endorsed by Mark Hall, while ex-Bright Light Parade lead singer Lex Anderson’s debut EP, which released in January 2014, was advocated by ex-Superchick front-woman Tricia Baumhardt, and Hillary McBride’s debut EP was given the two thumbs up by fellow indie artist Heather Schnoor (whom I reviewed back in 2012). All these three aforementioned titles were great leaps of faith- so when I heard Lara publicly praise Nikki for her fervent passion and enthusiasm, I knew I had to check this new album out. But instead of streaming on Spotify, I decided to leapfrog the streaming process and purchase it outright- besides, if you have around $25 and haven’t spent it since last year, then why not purchase something now more than ever?
The title track on the EP, “The Voyage” starts off with cymbals, synths and string instruments, reminding me something that Michael W. Smith would choreograph in some of his songs from Glory or Freedom. As we are brought into a moment of reflection and a realisation that our journey in this life is a voyage like no other (one to be enjoyed and every experience learnt from), Nikki humbly declares for God to ‘…take my hand and lead the way…’, walking on the waves of the unknown as we trust God every step of the way. Vocally reminding myself of artists like Britt Nicole, Beckah Shae or Superchick, Nikki has paved the way for the entire EP with this enthusiastic song about embracing the journey of life, knowing that in every circumstance, God’s love is leading us in ways we can’t necessarily fathom or even comprehend.
With a more CCM/radio atmosphere, “After You” is certain to please anyone who loves radio friendly material (myself included), as we hear Nikki assert with all her enthusiastic passion that she is longing after God, something we all have to publicly and personally declare each day as we live it out fully and without any hesitation. With a percussion loop, Nikki leaps into heartfelt lyrics of poignancy, showing us of how ‘…I was chasing down things I could see, craving for something that was killing me, and I heard a voice speaking softly sweet- “leave this all behind, come follow me”…’ A song about personal experience and a testimony to how Christ always comes and saves us (even in the moments where we don’t ask, or too afraid to), “After You” showcases some of Nikki’s strong vocals, and alongside “The Voyage”, is one of my personal standouts on the EP.
Throughout the rest of the EP, Nikki offers up a wide selection of musical genres and unique instrumentation to take us through these next four songs that make this album a solid one to listen to (if you want to check out new and upcoming indie artists). With just a piano and Nikki’s voice, we are given “Eternal Valentine”, a love-letter of sorts from God to us as we are encouraged in our daily walk with Him. The most vulnerable song on the EP, Nikki’s heartfelt emotion is captured nicely in the melody, and even though it’s only the piano, the atmosphere and poignancy is nevertheless drawn out quite well. As we reflect on how we ought to ‘…hang in there, hold on now, I’m always up to something good, so don’t look down, I am yours and you are mine, here’s my light now let it shine, I’ll love you til the end of time, signed your eternal valentine…’; Nikki brings us to a more musically vibrant song in “Patiently Wait”, an electronic song that brings to light the topic of waiting- whether it be waiting for a spouse, or on a big decision, or even just waiting on the Lord. While at times, the percussion looping can seem a little formulaic, the song otherwise is a hit, with Nikki giving us a great reminder for us to ‘…patiently wait for You, I know You are coming soon…’
With Nikki unveiling another track from the point of view of God in “Treasure of My Blood”, a song that encourages us as we know that God willingly sacrificed Jesus ‘…for the joy that was in store, in love I paid a way…’, as well as a spoken word/rap in “Grace”, a ‘song’ that delves into the topic of grace (and reminds me of something Jimmy Needham would record); The Voyage EP has certainly been a surprise if ever there was any surprises of songs released in 2014 so far. Nikki is a great promising artist, and this EP reflects what I’m sure is only a snippet of what she is capable of. With enthusiasm and passion fueling her (and the fact that her music reminds me of artists like Britt Nicole and Beckah Shae can’t hurt her chances in the industry); Nikki is certainly my pick of standout new artist of the year in the pop/R&B/electronic genre. Well done Nikki for such a poignant and emotive, encouraging and enjoyable album!
3 songs to listen to: Treasure of My Blood, Grace, Eternal Valentine
RIYL: Britt Nicole, Rachael Lampa, Beckah Shae, Superchick