Nai Palm, front woman of Neo-Soul phenomenon Hiatus Kaiyote, released her debut solo album Needle Paw on October 20th. The modern soul star did not disappoint, delivering a thirteen song album full to the brim with soothing vocal harmonies and rich acoustic guitar. The listener embarks on a uniquely “Palm” experience that focuses on her gifts as a singer and songwriter. Dynamic contrast, vivid lyrics, layers upon layers of harmony and the stripped down setup all combine to make an intimate and soulful album. The personality on the album is simply astounding. Palm’s love of nature, aboriginal culture, and other songwriters is quite apparent. For instance, Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi’s vocals, featured on the first and last track, pay homage to her homeland of Australia and fit along with the rest of the album beautifully.
In addition to five new original songs like “Crossfire/So Into You” and “Homebody”, Nai Palm features new recordings of classic Hiatus Kaiyote songs alongside covers of artists Jimmi Hendrix, Radiohead, and David Bowie. Nai Palm successfully makes old songs sound new again with her unique, soulful approach. These covers littered throughout the album are simultaneously my most and least favorite parts. The good? Even though we have heard these songs before, they still sound new and interesting. Musical space creates a harrowing and unique vibe. The album is so personal that you feel like you’re up close with an amazing artist for a private concert, delving even deeper into some of your favorite songs. I cannot stress enough how much I love the production on this album. New vocals and rhythms add flavor to songs like “Molasses” and “Breathing Under Water” helping to make these stripped down renditions enjoyable to listen to. The bad? Hiatus Kaiyote fans have been craving new songs since the 2015 release of “Choose Your Weapon”. I would have liked to have heard more new original songs. Hopefully this lack of new material means an upcoming release from Hiatus Kaiyote.
Over all Needle Paw gets 4 out of 5 stars and is an album I would definitely recommend checking out. Nai Palm is a sensational musical artist who has an important voice in our world of music. Her skill as a musician is apparent with her songwriting, producing, and performing as all three come together. Although lacking in new original material, her take on timeless classics and Hiatus Kaiyote songs is fresh and moving. There is a level of intimacy present that all solo acts should aspire to. I look forward to more releases from Nai and Hiatus in the upcoming years. Follow Nai Palm and Hiatus Kaiyote on social media for more music and tour updates.