Nai Palm | Needle Paw
With her Zen-filled lyrics and a gentle delivery, Nai Palm, the 23-year-old lead vocalist of the Australian based soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote, delivers an acoustic barrage on her solo debut Needle Paw.
Following the group’s release of its 2016 EP Recalibrations Vol.1 ,they decided to take some time off, allowing for individual creative pursuits. During this break, armed with her guitar and the scenery of her native Australian costal side of Melbourne, Nai Palm helps orchestrate one of the most refreshing debuts in the Soul and R&B genres.
The intro track “Wititj (Lightning Snake) Pt. 1” submerges the listener in the indigenous culture of Australia as Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiw takes lead vocals to start off the album with Palm on guitar. The healing chant that he recites allows for a brief yet powerful vocal presence which preps you for the remainder of the 13-track piece. Nai Palm’s devotion to helping represent her home island/continent as well as establishing her own original sound is apparent throughout her album.
Her guitar, which is featured on every song, helps create a soothing yet almost raving atmosphere, as if you were ship wrecked on an island looking back out at a calm ocean. Her skills with the instrument are on full display in tracks like “Borderline with My Atoms,” “Haiku,” and “Molasses” yet her vocal set is the main attraction on display here.
The covers she includes on her album, including a brief rendition of David Bowie’s “Blackstar” and reiterations of previous Hiatus Kaiyote songs, give a sense that Nai Palm’s not sharing her take on R&B, but instead a preview of the new sounds of her country, which were once dominated by Indie and Rock N Roll but now find artists making music that reflects the country and the youth the roam its city and country sides.
A drawback of the artist’s reliance on her guitar is that at times it feels as if you have been listing to the same song for 15-minutes. This isn’t essentially a dreadful thing; due to its calm nature, the album is perfect to play anywhere car, office, school, tub, the beach, etc. For those looking for more pop- centered R&B or boastful soul this may not be the right album. There are no heavy drums or any 808’s to be found here or deep piano keys, just an artist and her musical weapon of choice.
Needle Paw comes off as a calm war cry to the musical industry to take Nai Palm, Hiatus Kaiyote, and the Australian music scene seriously. With her music being sampled by major artist such as Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper and Drake as well as Hiatus Kaiyote being Grammy nominated in 2014, it’s safe to say her talent has not gone unnoticed and is only improving. Needle Paw will leave listeners searching to see where Nai Palm will show up next.