Nick Andre – “Guns” & “L.A.’s On Fire”
“Guns”, the first of Nick Andre’s two new singles we’re discussing, isn’t a bountiful musical feast and its primary element is the vocal track. Andre surprises listeners a bit with the chorus as the vocals cop a near R&B/gospel feel squarely at odds, yet remarkably sympathetic in this instance, with the solidly rap vocals during the song’s verses. The intensity is palpable despite this seemingly oddball marriage of styles. Andre’s ideas for the song are uniformly strong; a good example of that is how the chorus vocals swell when they return following the conclusion of the verses. Much of the song is built around this near acapella approach and the percussion gives it increased urgency. His production choices in that area are equally keen; the drums underline every vocal nuance in both styles.
The lyrics for both songs go in hard for social criticism, but it isn’t ideology or dogma. It’s a hard-boiled, cynical point of view Andre brings to both of these songs and they couldn’t be any more relevant in American life circa 2018, but they work in concert with their musical settings rather than reducing the arrangements to mere afterthoughts serving as vehicles for the song’s lyrical broadsides. The second single reviewed here, “L.A.’s On Fire”, doubles down on the darkness of the first song with a song that portrays the City of Angels teetering, both lyrically and musically, on the brink of an abyss from which there is no coming back.
The production does an outstanding job of scene setting. “L.A.’s On Fire” is a much busier number than the first song, but Andre’s efforts are never overwrought and the theatrical quality it assumes thanks to tastefully chosen sound effects doesn’t strain its credibility with listeners. The percussion isn’t as prominent as we hear with “Guns”, but it helps enhance the song’s overarching mood and provides the synthesizer and electronic effects a strong rhythm over which they weave their colors. If this song has a color, it’s blood red and the walls seem to be closing in on you from the first, but it’s a short track running a little less than two and a half minutes and never oppressive.
The simple, insistent qualities of the song’s chorus and the effects placed on some of the vocals give the track a tortured quality – like it’s a message from the front lines of an inferno. It’s a quality defining both of these singles. “Guns” and “L.A.’s on Fire” is music of the moment that never shrinks away from the moment nor its place in the unending struggle to make sure the voices of those observing this violence and decay can be heard. Nick Andre demands to be heard; you can’t deny him. His latest two singles should go a long way towards solidifying his reputation as one of the most creative artists working in modern music today.