In the midst of this pandemic, it is gratifying to hear that local musicians continue to make music. With the local scene being heavily affected by its lack of live shows, Rhode Island acts are finding ways to stay inspired and continue reaching out to local fans. That said, this week’s review looks at NOVA ONE’s latest record, Lovable.
Providence local, Roz “NOVA ONE” Raskin, continues to charm and pursue listeners with their ‘60s vintage pop style and iconic wigs. Lovable was produced Big Nice Studio with Bradford Krieger and Chaimes Parker; the same people that Raskin made their first solo project, Secret Princess, with. Lovable carries on with their flowy, dream-like harmonies and almost feels as if it were a full-lengthed extension of Secret Princess, but with grungier and moodier roughness in its creation. Raskin covers and extends messages of queerness, womanhood, and sexuality in these newer songs.
“I think Secret Princess was the start of something for me,” said Raskin. “In the making of that EP, I was able to re-examine my songwriting with my own specific vision. Lovable feels like it’s full of more [fleshed] out ideas, a larger concept, more songs, more of a story to tell with even more intention and understanding.”
For the “Violet Dreams” video, Raskin worked with a major collaborator and friend, Rich Ferri. As for “close encounter,” they worked with two artist friends, Sierra Sanchez and Gabriel Nelson. So far, Raskin said the response to their record has been very warm and lovely.
“In some ways, releasing music during this time has given more of an opportunity for it to be heard,” said Raskin.
Lovable has fan favorites such as “violet dreams,” “close encounter,” and “Lovable” that have amassed many plays throughout the various streaming services. The 2020 album also includes a rendition of Roz and the Rice Cakes’ single “Close Encounters.” The song was released back in 2015 but seems to remain relevant to Raskins’ inspiration and musicianship throughout the years. The song “close encounter,” off of Lovable, is a mellow approach to the original. The song does not hold the same vocal distortion, but instead, focuses on the singer’s delicate, rounded voice. Both versions are enjoyable and pleasant to the ear, but now gives listeners access to different adaptations of the song.
“‘close encounter’ is a song that I envisioned a few different versions of,” said Raskin. “I think it’s fun to rework old material if it still feels relevant to your life.”
The music video emphasizes beauty standards and ideals for women, and the importance of accepting one’s own beauty. Although a very amazed Raskin stares at a video stuck on Dolly Parton’s face, they intend on recreating her look with blue eyelash and red lipstick. Toward the end, they recognize their own beauty with a simple eyeliner and lip gloss look.
“I think we all want to be ‘lovable,’ and I have struggled with feeling lovable at various times in my life,” said Raskin. “I think a lot of people identify with that feeling.”
Other honorable mentions include the album’s kick-off song, “To Be Kind.” The song holds gentle angst and introduces us to the blossoming sound surrounding the record. Other songs such as “Somebody” includes similar tones to past songs like “Your Girl” and “If You Were Mine”; something familiar for longtime Raskin fans, unlike “Feeling Ugly and Down,” which dispatches a newer wave of sounds we have not yet heard from NOVA ONE. The track does, however, stick to their vintage-sounding roots.
Stream (and buy) the album below:
Support Other Local Artists
Although we are in isolation, records such as these remind us of the local music we have access to. There is a compilation playlist on Bandcamp with local artists who donated a song to raise money for Pawtucket’s only music venue, News Cafe. Bandcamp offers a name your price option to download the compilation on your phone or computer. The movement was started by Providence Podcast, Where The Living Room Used To Be. Artists include NOVA ONE, Delko, Jesse the Tree, Slitty Wrists, Ghosts in the Snow, Strip Mall, The Benji’s, and many others. Remember to support your local artists and bands. Anything from a single donation, share or a listen will mean a lot more now than ever before.