Human Too (LP) by Nikki Lerneros
Dazzling us with kaleidoscopic melodies in “Strength.” Crushing us with her awesomely smooth vocal in “What I Really Meant to Say.” Controlling the entire room with a verse as soft as silk yet as impenetrable as solid steel in “Home.” Spellbinding anyone and anything within range of her sophisticated harmony in “Longing.”
To say that Nikki Lerner is giving the performance of her life in from Human Too’s title track to the unfiltered “Tell Me” might not being doing what she’s done here justice; from where I sit, this is a watershed moment in both her career and the underground circuit she’s clearly looking to break free from. See, Human Too doesn’t present us with Nikki Lerner as we’ve come to know her through the last two LPs bearing her moniker; it gives us a closer look at her artistry through both live cuts like “Welcome to the New” and refined, studio-recording content like “Solomon’s Song” and the old school “Falling.” Colorful crooning and lush instrumental textures make this an unforgettable addition to her discography, but more than that, the very substance of the musicality in this LP make it a required acquisition for anyone who can’t get enough of a captivating melodic treasure.
The vocals are unbelievably decadent in “Love Again” and “Colors,” and for me personally, the indulgence is absolutely breathtaking. It’s definitely a far cry from the minimalist aesthetic that many of her peers have been utilizing when producing new content of their own, but it doesn’t make other songs like “Home” or “Longing” feel woefully conservative by comparison at all. There’s always a lot of intensity coming from the backing band in Human Too, but the swagger of Lerner’s own performance dismisses the idea of this being anyone else’s showcase. “Welcome to the New” and “Love Again” definitely make me want to see her live in concert at some point in the future, and not because of her adept management of the music exclusively. You can tell she comes alive on the stage in ways that most of us could only dream of experiencing, and her ‘it’ factor is what essentially makes each of these tracks sound as though they’re some of the most robust compositions in 2020’s pop soundtrack.
You don’t have to be a longtime fan of Nikki Lerner’s music to immediately love what she’s serving up in Human Too, but those who have been keeping up with her story since the beginning are likely to agree when I say this is a record that no fan should be without. Lerner’s fantastic presence alone is a reason to believe in her eminence both in neo-soul and the greater pop genre in general, and if she can build off of the steam this release will undoubtedly create for her, it’s difficult for me to picture her remaining a purely underground force for much longer. The mainstream is hungry for someone of her skills, and right now, she’s offering what could be the most powerful original indie LP of the year in Human Too.