Smart and dumb, like a conundrum

By By Spencer Young

By Spencer Young

Nina Nastasia

On Leaving

Fat Cat Records

Three-and-a-half out of five stars

Something just shy of a miracle occurs when the following features synthesize on a record: one lonely human, one acoustic guitar, a piano and Platonic ideals.

Which means Nina Nastasia just might be miraculous.

Nastasia sings exclusively about loss and nostalgia on her new record, On Leaving. Yep-she is lonely. The guitar and piano are also lonely-the instruments rarely appear together, and when they do, they seem at odds with each other. Nastasia’s voice, however, cascades everything into a warm environment-something along the lines of a small bedroom with orange shag carpet and a mural of yellow daisies that takes up most, if not all, of the wall space.

Idealized romance reaches its peak in “Our day trip,” which proposes a schematic for the execution of the “perfect afternoon:” calling in sick from work, skipping out to a lake outside of the city, splitting a bottle and swimming naked.

A comfortable discomfort circles On Leaving. Maybe it’s the mix of oranges and yellows or the superlative sentiments. Regardless, for anyone going through a breakup, this record is both consoling and nauseating.

Nastasia is very much in tune and cognizant of the emotional ramshackle she is shackling. There is a sense of steadfast sureness in her voice, as though she is smirking behind every ridiculous fancy she purports.

With Neko Case-like lullabies and smart masochism, On Leaving builds subtle, haunting layers beneath equivocal emotions, bleak darkness and the transcendence of new experience in the face of past traumas.