Nina de Vitry’s soulful voice, jazzy composition, and creative lyrics make her breakout EP, Trust A Dream, a sweet treat for the ears. De Vitry’s soothing vocals are reminiscent of an early Norah Jones (think “Come Away with Me”) mixed with a neo-soul/India.Arie influence. The EP’s instrumentation provides the perfect backdrop for de Vitry’s beautiful voice to shine. Each track off the album contains a playfully unique combination of percussion, acoustic guitar, brass, and stand-up bass. For me, what stands out most on this EP are the thoughtful lyrics that drive the music forward.
Through examining the lyrics, it becomes clear that this EP represents a journey of discovering oneself. Even though that may sound like a cliche, Trust a Dream doesn’t feel cliche at all; it’s too inventive. The first track starts off the EP with question over question: “Can you trust a dream?” “Does it melt your mind?” “Do you feel at home?” and “Do you feel it in your bones?”. Yet, the opening of the chorus– “O, there’s plenty of time, my darling, to be rigid as a stone”– shows that the speaker already has a solid foundation to help figure out some of the answers to these questions. Perhaps the questions are more for the listener to know the kind of weighty things that this collection will explore. Particularly the repeated, “Can you trust a dream?” feels akin to Langston Hughes’ “What happens to a dream deferred?” from Harlem. As we know, Hughes already has an idea–he just wants to make sure his readers are thinking about the same things he is.
When track two comes around, “Baby in the Shade”, we see that the EP contains a lot of hope and optimism, with the repetition of “it’s gonna be ok, gonna be ok, cuz it’s always ok” in the bridge. The playful brass, bass, and keys further reinforce the track’s whimsical nature.
The third song feels like a jazzier version of Randy Newman’s Toy Story classic “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”; but instead of the “you” being a person, de Vitry is addressing the land in the title of the song, “Golden County”. The creative wordplay of the lyrics particularly stands out, for example: “But fear not Golden County, they’ll be silver while the gold is still ours” and “I’ll be out chasin’ freedom, leavin’ sun and takin’ moon as my guide”. “Darling” then carries the whimsy along, while “Broken Cities” diverts the journey of the album to look at the other side– those who have been robbed of their hope and optimism.
With the EP’s fifth track, “Broken Cities”, de Vitry takes an honest look at cities, opening with the lyrics: “Broken cities empty fast when lights are more than day”. The lyrics of this track are more socially focused than the other songs off the EP. A prime example is “Broken cities disinfect, then cauterize our minds / Clean em’ out, then close em’ up, in hopes that we don’t find / We just wanna fly away/ We just wanna find our way”. In case you don’t know (I also had to look it up), “cauterize” means “to burn with a hot iron”. So, here de Vitry is saying that “broken cities” burn resident’s minds with a hot iron in the name of disinfecting, all the while really just wiping them clear in order to make residents forget that they too can dream and have hope.
“Live like Water Lives” could not close out the EP more beautifully. The peaceful strumming of the acoustic guitar reflects the tranquil focus of the lyrics. The chorus repeats the title “live like water lives” and throughout the song, the verses expound and give light to what that really means. A few snippets of what it means to “live like water lives” are: “Fall soft like the rain,” “Be bold like the storms,” “Kiss like the mist, caress like the sea,” “Run brave as a river,” “Be open like the ocean’s plain,” and “Shift free like the waves”. Here, it seems the artist shares her words of advice that perhaps helped her attain the hope she shares with her listeners in the other five songs.
Trust A Dream is a powerful collection of soulful tracks. Nina de Vitry’s EP contains a level of depth that is not found in a lot of music today. And its playful yet soothing sound leaves listeners relaxed and ready for more. If you happen to live in the Lancaster, PA, region, de Vitry’s CD release party is on December 20th. I’m sure it will be wonderful.–Krisann Janowitz