Nina Nesbitt isn't new to the music scene; her previous album, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change garnered her worldwide acclaim, shoutouts from Taylor Swift, and she recently performed with Coldplay. Her new album Älskar is different for her since she wrote it during lockdown, she didn't have the same amount of feedback she'd usually get performing live, and it was born from a different perspective.
She explains, "It was an isolated experience. I'm really hoping people relate to it; it's definitely extra vulnerable because I was home alone and felt quite comfortable doing that. It was a less collaborative process, and it's more like a diary in a way." She seemed a little nervous about the release; but overall, there's so much growth in this album.
Starting with, "Teenage Chemistry" perfectly captures nostalgic love. "Reckless heavenly, teenage chemistry, hands all over me," her angelic voice perfectly embodies that youthful energy. It's the perfect lead into the project. Soft and fun with a hint of excitement. The way she explores all the different kinds of love and the moments surrounding it, it's so intricate. She tells me, "I'm just finding new subjects and themes. There's nothing too drastic, just more stories," but she's a master in the art of telling stories and making songs that feel so authentic.
In "Pressure Makes Diamonds," Nesbitt confronts the constant pressure on women. Nesbitt tells me, "Everyone's journey is completely different, especially as a woman. There's no right or wrong way. You can do it all. You just have to do what's right for you." It's a cheeky song that plays with all the different stereotypes enforced on women by society. The Swedish pop sensibilities shine through, earwormy melodies, but Nesbitt's clever writing ties it all together.
She's able to flawlessly shift into songs like "Dinner Table," a song about three generations of women in her family. Her ability to tell a story really shines. She weaves the lives of her grandmother and her mother, just sitting around the dinner table.
She says, "We still go through the same things and have the same experiences; love and coming of age don't really change. It's just what surrounds you at the time." It's simple but poetic, and the way Nesbitt picks up on all of these little details feels so raw. "I think being Scottish, I've grown up with storytelling, folky music. Just walking around Edinburgh, there are buskers on every corner. It feels like it's just natural."
"Colors of You" is another perfect example of the little details. It's so specific and haunting. The gentle violins and the way the song builds so slowly until it feels like it's going to burst open. Nesbitt has mastered a slow burn of a song. Nesbitt intertwines these sun-soaked melodies with lyrics so intense they cut like a knife. "How am I supposed to carry the weight of your love when it gets this heavy? I should be a bird, but I don't really feel like flying cause my wings are hurt. Yeah, I'm tired of trying." With just gentle guitars carrying the melody and her soft voice feeling so delicate.
Nesbitt lays it all out there, even if it comes with a hint of nerves. When I asked her about putting out such vulnerable music, she said, "It's easy to write them, but it's harder to put out. I don't know if it's because I'm older and more self-aware, and it's scarier. I grew up very connected to songs that were really honest, almost too honest," and she models herself off of those giants of vulnerability.
This album dives into the nuances of life, a glimpse into Nesbitt's world, and a mirror into our own. It reflects those feelings of isolation and longing and love that connects everyone. When she looks at her career, she sees success in the same nuanced way. "I think I'm just trying to think of what success means to me. It feels like a strange time in the music industry and an ever-changing time as well," she says, "I feel like there's no real formula. It's just whatever you fancy doing, which is exciting but also scary."