Last week she released Exit Simulation, her debut album for Chicago-based Kranky Records.
The South Carolina-based artist Niecy Blues grew up in a religious household, where she absorbed harmonic spirituals within hallowed sanctuaries. She describes those early encounters in release notes as her “first experience with ambient music … slow songs of worship, with delay on the guitar… even if you don’t believe, you feel something.”
Last week she released Exit Simulation, her debut album for Chicago-based Kranky, whose releases by artists including Grouper, Low, and Stars of the Lid draw on ambient, noise and wide open spaces to create a specific kind of bliss. Like Grouper, Niecy Blues is a solo endeavor that revels in drifting washes of sound. But Niecy’s musical language, shaped as it is by the church, R&B balladry and hints of jazz, mixes these washes until they exude a soulful, shimmering aura.
Fans of Moses Sumney’s drifting, textured work will find a kindred spirit in Niecy. And like Sumney’s buzzy early releases, her debut feels like a portent of brilliant sounds to come.
Below, Niecy Blues selected five songs that have inspired her.
Syreeta – I Too Am Wanting
“This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard. Syreeta the siren. The texture of her voice and the way she exercises such a measured approach at moments to draw you in. Then at the end she blows us all away with the layering of almost ghostly sounding vocals that remind us just how crazy her range actually is.”
Kate Bush – Love and Anger
“After a good friend suggested I dive into Kate Bush I didn’t anticipate feeling so seen, comforted and understood. The lyrics of ‘Love and Anger ‘held me. “It’s so deep you don’t think you can speak about it to anyone.” This song, to me, speaks to the feeling of having deep cuts, deep wounds that you aren’t sure will ever heal. But there is a deep sense of hope and acceptance there.”
The Clark Sisters – Is My Living in Vain
“This song taught me so much about harmonies and blends. They felt so complex to me. They are able to simultaneously sound as one, but each individual voice is so distinctly heard. Magic. Twinkie Clark is the heartbeat!”
Meshell Ndegeocello – The Sloganeer
“I listened to this entire album several times during a time when I was questioning a lot of what I had grown up believing in. Meshell so boldly challenged and pushed beyond the boundaries (lyrically and sonically) of things I felt afraid to. The production is all encompassing, deeply layered and textured.”
Lupe Fiasco – The Coolest
“I’ll never forget hearing that dark piano and then the stone rolling away. My brother played the album [Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool] for me in the car. It was theater. The whole album felt like a movie. Storytelling. And the lyrics… I remember feeling so impressed. ‘…and so began our reign(rain)/the trinity: her and I, caine/No weatherman could ever stand where her and I came/Hella hard, umbrella whatever put plywood over Pella panes'”