Quietly Traumatic, NIA’s Trauma Tales vol. 1
By Zoe Elerby
NIA is a Philly based singer song-writer who has been telling her story through her music since she was seven years old. She spent most of her early childhood in Tobago and Trinidad where she was washed away by the musical stylings of Calypso and Soca music. By her senior year in high school, NIA was already creating her record label Chill Room Records. Now, NIA has over 6,000 listens on her single “The Math” that came out in 2021 which is far less than she deserves.
On September 7th, NIA released TRAUMA TALES VOL. 1 where she pours her soul into a series of lofi RnB songs for about 20 minutes. Each song has its own unique flair and its own story that tells the listener about NIA; who she is, who she represents and her own feelings and desires. From a song with people arguing as an instrumental to a delicate song about the fear of being rejected, NIA is clearly very versatile in her storytelling.
The singer has a voice that resembles the renowned Alicia Keys, NIA is simply a different genre. Instead of belting and holding notes, NIA is very tender in her songs, as if her voice is a veil flipping around in the wind. It’s clear, it’s easy to listen to and the stories are compelling, flowing into each other without missing a single beat. “A Love Story” and “Yet to be Named” are the two songs that come to mind after I listened to the album. “A Love Story” is just that. A love story. NIA sings to a lost love who she’s reminiscing about, recalling a few nights that they shared. Meanwhile “Yet to be Named” is NIA singing about her fears of being rejected by “the people”.
“How I feel…I’m trying too hard to please the people but they drain all my energy. How I feel like they don’t like me.”
“It only feels right when I try to make it alone.”
Whether NIA is singing about her fans or the people closest to her when she says those lines, it’s a brilliant artistic choice to put a song about social emotional struggle right after a song about a lover that’s no longer in her life. “Yet to be Named” is another brilliant choice for the subject of the song. A lot of people struggle with their feelings and need help coping with what triggers certain emotions. Emotional regulation is also hinted at in “Trouble Fun” where we listen to an argument between two people, a man and a woman. As we listen, we realize these people don’t know each other as one challenges another with insult after insult. Meanwhile NIA’s alluring vocals cut in to tell us:
“I don’t mean to be troublesome, I just want some trouble fun. You can meet me in the backroom.”
“How can you tell me how I feel?”
NIA is a Trinidadian queer woman from Queens. She has had her fair share of trouble and in this song, she refers to it as a bit of a game. If you don’t take things too seriously, it can’t hurt you. Can it? NIA’s emotions are a large part of this album, hence the name. “Trouble Fun” is the only song with that element of lightheartedness while hinting at something a bit more intimate and traumatic. The songs that follow, such as “Yet to be Named” melts away the emotional mask NIA wears.
Overall, the album is a brilliant piece that should be shared. As I listened to the album in the short twenty minutes it took to finish, I looked at NIA’s social presence. As an indie alternative artist, it’s important to brand yourself while also staying authentic. But unfortunately there are artists that want to be seen but are nowhere to be found when you look up their name.
However, NIA has been doing this since she was a child, she’s a professional in every sense. She frequently updates her fans and performs at show after show after show. With this new album and its second volume, I have high hopes that NIA will be given a brighter spotlight. You can find TRAUMA TALES VOL. 1 on Spotify and other music streaming platforms.
Read more reviews here!