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Music Review – Blame by Lio Nicol Reviewed by Layla Dorine, Official Divine Magazine Music Reviewer

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Lio Nicol is both sage and sass. With honest yet quirky lyrics, she has found a way to reflect her sense of humor while maintaining her grace, setting her apart from other singer-songwriters.

After a few semesters of studying biology at the University of Montana, Nicol left her hometown of Missoula and relocated to California in 2010 to pursue a career in music. A talented pianist and guitarist, Lio Nicol has found her greatest passion lies within songwriting. Inspired by the legendary Diane Warren, Nicol’s songwriting is a reflection of her thoughts, heartbreak, and love. Her powerhouse vocals and catchy indie-pop melodies have led to her being describes as an early Mariah Carey meets Florence and The Machine.

Lio Nicol has toured and recorded with some of the industry’s top musicians as well as Grammy award-winning producers. She has performed all over North America in a variety of concerts including the Dragon Boat Festival, Durango Expo, House of Blues San Diego, The Mint in Los Angeles and many others. Music fans have recognized her 5-octave range and impressive stage presence and continue to come back to her shows again and again.

To find out where you can see Lio Nicol live and for other updates, stay tuned to her website

Publicity team name: Amanda Blide (LaFamos Marketing and Publishing)
Artist: Lio Nicol
Year: 2017
Genre: Indy-pop


Set to debut her new EP, “Blame”, on January 27th, Indy-pop singer/songwriter Lio Nicol has been on a whirlwind of touring and performances while still finding time to slip into the studio to record. Hailing from Montana, this former biology major turned musician moved out to the west coast to pursue her dream. Now living in California, Lio Nicol has wowed audiences with her stunning covers to some pretty iconic songs.

My first exposure to Nicol’s distinctive voice was through a cover of Leonard Coen’s “Hallelujah.” A beautiful rendition made special by the lovely way Lio Nicol hit the high notes, going from soft lilt to power in a matter of notes, each one packed with emotion. The delivery was strong, endearing, passionate, and raw, one of the best renditions by a female artist that I have had the privilege of listening to. This song is one of my personal favorites and Lio Nicol’s version did not disappoint in the slightest. You can practically taste the pain as Nicol brings the song soaring to its end.

That wasn’t the only cover to surprise though, I must admit, listening to Lio Nicol’s delivery of Tracy Chapman’s  “Fast car” was quite the treat. Sweet, soulful, mournful , an absolutely captivating rendition of a powerful song. Rather than try to imitate the original, Leo Nicol slows it down a bit in a delivery that is packed with yearning and emotion.

The same held true for her delivery of the classic Bonnie Raitt song “I can’t make you love me.” It was soft, seductive, and while it lacked the raw intensity of Raitt’s version, it made up for it with a sweet longing that shone through from beginning to end. While Raitt’s voice has a deeper, more soulful quality to it, Lio Nicol’s high, clear soprano still delivers a beautifully expressive rendition of the song.

What truly blew me away, however, was the cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. A song whose original variation has a permanent place on my playlist, “Tiny Dancer” is one I sing in the kitchen while I’m cooking supper. Right from the start, Lio Nicol snatched my attention with the endearing quality of her delivery of this timeless classic. Conveying the story with a captivating charm, this was my favorite of the covers, and it made it onto my playlist right alongside the original.  In a true showing of her range, Nicol also delivered fantastic covers of Mariah Carey’s “We belong together,” and John Hiatt’s “Have a little faith in me.” As dynamic and powerful as the Mandy Moore rendition, Nicol’s “Have a little faith in me,” was packed full of feels.

This same emotion has been carried over in her new EP, “Blame”, featuring four original tracks.

  1. They sent you back down
  2. Day job
  3. Take me away
  4. Blame

Also available on her website is “The person you knew,” a haunting beautiful original song that mixes storytelling with aching piano playing and a voice that is half-imploring, half accusation and all powerful angst.

Taking energetic beats and coupling them with up-tempo guitar playing, “They sent you back down” is rhythmic, catchy, easy to move to, and fueled by her powerful delivery. It was hard to sit still while listening, and even harder to sit still during “Day Job,” and as an added bonus the lyrics are fun, easy to fall in love with and reflective of day to day life.

“He’s got that day job, I’ve got the night. But I know that his love don’t tell no time. ‘Cause when my baby comes home he’ll treat me right. Makin’ that good love straight on through the night.”

Dealing with the issues of working opposite shifts, Lio Nicol reminds the listener that as long as there is love and kisses the relationship will not only grow but shine. Positive, upbeat, and absolutely inviting the listener to sing along, “Day Job,” is an awesome track.

Showing her range, Nicol moves from the up-beat to the sad, angsty pining of “Take me away.” Wow, the power, longing, hurt, misery, pleasing and desperation packed into this emotionally charged song was phenomenal.

“Take me away, take me away from here she said. Give me wings, give me wings to fly instead. Take me away. Away. Calling. Calling to the sky. This is goodbye.”

So much meaning, so many situations can be applied to these words, the listener can sort of fill in the blanks, put themselves into the position of the narrator and relate to this song on so many different levels. In showing variety, Nicol also insures that there is a chance for a wider audience to connect with her music.

The title track, “Blame” is a mix of “Day Job’s” catchy beats and “Take me away’s” pining. With a nicely mid-tempo beat, this is one half break up song and one half break up anthem. A beautifully put together EP, “Blame” is a taste, a teasing of just what Lio Nicol is capable of. Listeners take notice, this artist is going to be very difficult to forget.
Rating Tag:  Powerful, Catchy, Emotional
Track Specific (0 to 5)

  1. They sent you back down 4
  2. Day job 5
  3. Take me away 5
  4. Blame 4.5

Overall Album (0 to 5): 5


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