Needle Paw is the first solo album by Nai Palm, the lead singer and composer of R&B future soul outfit Hiatus Kaiyote.
A two-time Grammy nominated singer, songwriter and musician from Melbourne, Australia, Nai Palm is a composer, instrumentalist, producer, vocalist and poet who approaches all of these self-taught disciplines with an intuitive, infectious grace. This gift has sent her and her band Hiatus Kaiyote on a journey to sculpt songs that have been received and treasured across the globe.
Celebrated by musicians from the late Prince, to Questlove, Erykah Badu and Chance The Rapper, and sampled by a wide range of artists including Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak, Hiatus Kaiyote's success sets the stage for Nai's first solo effort.
Comprised almost entirely of her guitar playing and vocal arrangements, Needle Paw is Nai Palm's self-imposed challenge to explore the potential for immortality and timelessness within her music by stripping away the produced layers to focus on the element that is closest to the source of the human soul, the voice. As she explained in an exclusive interview with Julie Adenuga at Beats 1 "[the voice is] such an emotional instrument. So you really hear all the all the textures within that when there's nothing else."
In offering an overview, Nai states: "this record is a very personal leap into the deep end. I wanted to make something with no landmarks to hide behind and no team to fall back on."
Needle Paw is the rawest glimpse into Nai Palm's musical world. It is dreamlike, honest, and beautifully transparent, revealing her musical ruminations to listeners with a courageous vulnerability and artistic generosity. Nai sees this album as a reminder to musicians that they don't have to rely on production to expose their gifts.
Needle Paw features acoustic versions of Hiatus Kaiyote favorites "Atari," "Mobius," "When The Knife," "Molasses," and "Borderline With My Atoms."
She refers to the latter composition as her opus: "It is the song I am the proudest to have written and it's also Prince's favourite track from Hiatus Kaiyote. It was written about a friend of mine who is Native American from the Apache tribe, Puerto Rican and Filipino. One day we were hanging out and I watched his face turn into a bear right in front of my eyes."
"Breathing Underwater" from Choose Your Weapon is featured in a medley with David Bowie's composition "Blackstar" and Radiohead's "Pyramid Song."
"This is my favourite song on this record. I was in a car on the way to a beach called Half Moon Bay and out of nowhere David Bowie songs were playing on every radio station. I was having such a good time listening to it with some of my girls. We arrived at the beach and the vibe was so morbid. The sky was overcast and contrasted with the colour of sandstone cliffs. Someone was checking their phone, and found out he passed away, and we just started drinking rum, and I ended up getting his eyes tattooed on my shoulders that night. Bowie is such an enigma, but also a humanitarian in the truest sense of the word. It's hard to find any artist that is more unapologetically themselves. On the one hand, he is an outlandish space icon, on the other he is incredibly caring and eloquent and giving. This cover is paying my respects by building a mysterious temple out of raw vocals inspired by the Bulgarian Women's State Choir and Tarantino-esque guitar sounds. I end the piece with my song 'Breathing Underwater,' which was inspired by listening to the Kora legend Toumani Diabate. This was the last piece of the puzzle recording wise and it was a mission but somehow everything came together magically in the end. I was able to include a local Kora player, Amadou Suso on the track and a crow managed to find its way on there as well. See if you can find it!"
The second non-Hiatus Kaiyote cover on the album is of Jimi Hendrix's iconic composition "Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)" on which Nai celebrates the soulful side of Hendrix.
"People have a tendency to celebrate Jimi Hendrix's technically ability and overlook his writing ability. His soulful chord structures and movements are sexy as fuck. I wanted to celebrate the soulful side of Hendrix and be really playful with the vocal arrangements…It's an ode to femininity from a male perspective being interpreted by a woman who plays electric guitar."
There are six new tracks on the album written by Nai including the "Homebody" which she refers to as her "purest offering…a sanctuary to lick your wounds…without acrobatics."
Also featured is the medley "Crossfire/So Into You" which dives into a topic that Nai rarely writes about…romantic relationships. The outro of the song is a cover of Tamia's "So Into You."
"It's a nod to 90's R&B but also an examination of how easily we can be drawn into coveting the idea of picture perfect love. I find most people are afraid of real love – to hold it you have to be brave," says Nai.
Nai Palm's approach to vocal arrangements is orchestral. At any moment, the instruments she hears in her mind are presented in an organic blossoming of sound. A voice can be presented as a horn or strings or a choir of wild dingos. Her sonic environments celebrate the synthesis of sound and the points of contact that gather us together within it, steadily moving away from the artist as ego and fitting each heartfelt offering into the ecosystem of the entire arrangement.
At this point in her journey, she has nothing to prove to anyone, just something that provides for everyone.
Official website: https://www.facebook.com/naipalmmusic/
- 180 gram audiophile vinyl
- gatefold sleeve
- brand new solo album by Hiatus Kaiyote lead singer
- Includes 2 exclusive inserts