29 May 2020
EP Rating 5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 4 / 5
Favourite Songs Sweet, Cruise, Closer, Sliding
Nuance is a stunning debut EP. The collection of serene neo-soul songs carry you into the dream world of Leeds' B-âhwe, journeying through her thoughts along with the tingling melodies that move between hip-hop and ambient styles to spotlight her incredible gift as a singer-songwriter.
Influenced by Charlotte dos Santos, Hiatus Kaiyote, Portishead and Fatima, the EP tells the story of discovering self-love and worth as B-âhwe wrote the tunes during months of mental and physical entrapment due to illness. Having honed her skills through playing regularly around Leeds as well as performances at Manchester Jazz Festival, World Island Festival and Tramlines, her unique vocal range has sought collaborations with fellow contemporaries Lausse the Cat, Nix Northwest, TAMBALA, Spacey Basement Cult and Yaatri over the past couple of years.
Nuance finally allows us to take a step through the looking glass into B-âhwe's capability in curating an extended release after a stream of singles since 2017. 'Closer' was the first single to come from this EP back in late 2019, a floating aura of glowing keys as this mood re-emerges throughout the EP. What stands out is B-âhwe's ability to command your attention through her vocals; she meticulously moves her tone and pitch which change seamlessly into different sonic spheres of bliss. 'Closer' is sung with lower tones to sooth you into the warm depths of her voice, as this song sees her two sides collide in harmony to lead to a change of perspective.
The EP takes you through B-âhwe's journey of confrontation and acceptance to reclaim her sense of self-worth, as she opens her eyes to see the beauty of reality that had been obscured. Second single 'Sliding' has a livelier rhythm section who accentuate dramatic breaks sublimely as the there is gentle power to B-âhwe's vocals that sweep you away.
Latest single 'Sweet' is truly magnificent, taking a microscope to the continued societal oppression of women through preconceived gender stereotypes, examined through the confusion of a broken relationship. Again, the heavenly sensation glows in the tender atmosphere as her vocals trickle out and linger so delicately throughout (read Ben's full review of the single here). The intro song 'Finding Your Haven' similarly captures this mood, featuring strings that sway with the vocals exquisitely.
The glow of B-âhwe's dream world is captured spectacularly in her collaboration with visual artist Ellie Wildman (Mildman Creative) in her music videos, as there is a storybook-nature to her songs which the EP emphasises with interludes 'Within' and 'Waters New', acting as poetic soliloquies drifting through the clouds of her dreams. The lofi and hip hop elements to her sound come to life in 'Suspended', as her spoken word verses contrast with the high-pitched backing vocals that lead into the trippy, pixie-like chorus.
The soulful trip-hop of 'Cruise' is breathtaking as the slick guitar licks filter in the spaces left in the verses before B-âhwe directs the guitar to "cruise with me" in the addictive chorus. The uplifting strings in the outro nudges us into an other-worldly ambience before they return in the icy but beautifully haunting intro of 'Take It'. There is a Scandi-jazz, Portishead feel to the song before the the finale ends with the ringing out of "take it" - B-âhwe has undeniably taken her chance to position herself to break through into the mainstream as she deservedly should.
The Minnie Riperton-style melodies and smooth riffs fit incredibly well through the transitions from trip and hip-hop to soulful soundscapes, transporting you into the realms of the emotional lyrical narratives that calm and tranquilise you into the lush sensations of B-âhwe's voice. The vocal textures vary from each song but they drive the twisting melodies to continue the flow of her story, never allowing the space offered by the rhythm section to feel empty, instead feeling magical. The entrancing fantasy world of B-âhwe has opened up, and her dreams have offered us a glimpse into her terrific ability as an artist and storyteller.
Buy and stream Nuance here:
Follow and keep up to date with B-âhwe here:
Watch some of B-âhwe's performances here:
Read Ben's review of 'Sweet' here:
Drums - Gregory Burns / Keys - Nix Northwest (Tracks 2-5, 7-9) / Keys - Jasper Green (Track 1) / Guitar - Liam DeTar / Bass - Patrick Hand / Violin - Jed Holland / Trumpet - Poppy (Pops) Daniels.
Mixing engineer - Frankie Harper (Monkey Harper) / Recording Engineer - Dan Clifford-Smith (Bobcat Music Productions) / Mixing engineer - Ryan Phillips (Track 4 only) / Recording Engineer - Ross Wilson (Track 4 only).
Artwork - Olivia Revans / Videography & Animation - Ellie Wildman (Mildman Creative)