Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Strong piano-based balladery and story-telling (alternative pop/rock with folk touches)
Most recent release, Songs from the Bardo (2009)
At first I thought Sarah Slean (because of the piano playing style) without the Tori Amos influences. I've heard Ani Difranco mentioned, but I don't hear it, although, like Ani, Sheila is a storyteller and not afraid of intensity in her music and her subject matter. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Own, some co-written
A fresh, original voice. I can't really think of anyone to compare her to, and it's even hard to come up with a good reference point. It's not that she's totally different, but she definitely stakes out her own place with what she does. Brief Strop is a definite 5 star album and would have been in my top 10 for 1999 if I hadn't waited til 2000 to buy it. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Comments about live performance:
I have heard Sheila Nicholls live, and she is really good. Sheila is English, and she is excellent. She's an original; I can't think of anyone to liken her music to. She sings to her own accompaniment on electric piano, plus that of accompanists on acoustic guitar and cello. She did some excellent songs on relationships, homelessness, consumerism, and other things. I recommend her enthusiastically. (11/99, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recommended first album:
Sheila Nicholls—piano, vocal, hammer dulcimer
James Harrah—guitar, bass, hammer dulcimer
Sheila Nicholls and James Harrah
They're playing her song "Fallen For You" on my college station here (incessantly), and god I love it. It's been a while I've gotten this excited about a song I've heard on the radio. (email@example.com)
Sheila Nicholls—vocals, piano, Rhodes
Glen Ballard—guitars, keyboards, programming, arrangements
Glen Ballard, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Jez Colin, Sheila Nicholls
This album is so different from Brief Strop that I don't really know how to reconcile the two. Of course, that's not necessary. This is an enjoyable and infectious album with catchy songs. It's less piano-based than her first album; there are songs where Sheila doesn't even play piano or keyboards at all, fuller in terms of drums and strings. The lyrics address issues of faith, confidence, apathy, self-empowerment, a better world, as well as love and relationships. So she has definitely not lost her feminist outlook or social consciousness. As much as I enjoy this album, I do think the quality is a notch below that on her first album. It's more rock/pop, more produced (perhaps overly so, at least in places), there are world music influences (most notably Middle Eastern). The lyrics are sometimes clichéd, and the social issues tend to be more preachy than coming. The jab at the Spice Girls ("And as the Spice Girls prostitute girl power in the background...), for instance, seems more like simplistic reflex and reactionary feminism at an easy target than meaningful social observation. And while I find myself singing along to the chorus of "Faith" ("When you have faith you will be willing to wait/ When you have faith through all that logic and haste, it's never too late/So try to create cos the last thing that breaks is your faith") I find the lyrics somewhat illogical, or at least banal. But it's catchy enough that I sing along happily and don't mind. The fourth track "Love Song" (a cover) is striking, and there's a really good hidden track that features just vocals and piano. It's when I get here that I miss the comparative sparseness of her first album. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Sheila Nicholls—vocals; piano (9, 11); guitar (7, 10); Rhodes (12)
Jessica Catron—cello (1, 2, 4, 9, 11)
Sheila Nicholls (1, 4-11), Jez Colin (2, 5, 8, 12), Lynne Earls (3, 7, 10, 11)
Wonderful album. It's similar to the full band sound of Wake, but stronger lyrically and musically. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.
DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.
|Entry last updated 2016-07-20 16:58:34.
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