Sarah Fimm, "Nexus"
Ambient Music Fit For Winter Nights
The atmosphere that Sarah Fimm creates when she plays could put even the most savage of people to sleep. On her third album, "Nexus," Fimm has taken her education of electronic and world music from Berklee School of Music in Boston and created a brilliant dimension between vocals and pianos. The songs on "Nexus" are colored with celestial and ambient sounds, and transition into each other almost seamlessly.
The sound transitions are reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and "Dark Side of The Moon," and her tranquil vocals and keys seem to pick up where Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan left off. Although she sounds quite similar to Amos and McLachlan, "Nexus" proves that Fimm is an artist who innovates rather than imitates her influences.
Classic composure from the likes of Bach and Chopin are apparent in Fimm's piano structure, and fans of the voice and piano of Evanescence's Amy Lee will especially take a liking for Fimm's dark and somber songwriting. Her electronic education is present on most of her tracks, incorporating Linkin Park-style drumbeats that put Fimm in a drastically different category. Mournful cellos on "Orchids" promote the album's sorrow, and the songs "Walk Away" and "December," bring the album's melancholy. The war-story song "Story of Us" paints an eerie picture, and the instrumental "Storytime," is as joyful as it is haunting. Fimm is a diamond buried deep in the indie underground, but digging her up will be well worth it.
Nas, "Street's Disciple"
Bridging the Gap Between the Streets and the World
Where do artists fit when their words are explicit but their voice is prophetic? Where do artists go when their wish is to make politics poetic? Nas' new double album proves that he might have just found that place.
Entertainment, especially in the world of hip-hop, is usually discredited or ignored when it comes to politics (thank P. Diddy for that), because many question the validity of the artist's words. Nas' career, however, stems long before rap had seen its solidified place in music, and he was also one of the first artists to help make it permanent. Rather than encouraging rump-shaking and drinking, Nas found his style better fit to voice the streets from which he was born. Family, society and relationships prevail on "Street's Disciple" to further Nas' legacy. His fianc/, Kelis, best known for the song "Milkshake," appears on the cynical "American Way," and she is the subject on Nas' more romantic song, "Getting Married."
The best track features Nas' father, Olu Dara, on a 12-bar blues/hip-hop gem that he had played live at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors alongside his old man. The song shows the influence that blues music had in the formation of hip-hop. "Virgo," is a head-bang worthy jam, featuring Ludicris and Doug E. Fresh, stealing its clever beat from the shaking of a spray-paint can.
"War" is Nas' discussion of the ongoing war in the streets and features Keon Bryce, who sounds like a friendlier Nate Dogg. "Me & You," contains interpolations from Marvin Gaye's "If This World Were Mine" and is Nas' tribute to his daughter. "A Message to the Feds, Sincerely the People," opens the album with a somber piano melody, and "Thief's Theme," closes the album with a story of New York City with a tight '70s rock 'n' roll groove. Nas might not be on the rotation of TRL or behind the podium of CNN, but he'll continue to spread his knowledge from the streets to his audience.