An Imaginative Dreamscape
Kathleen Potton uses her debut album Nero as an homage to singer-songwriter Laura Nyro. Much of the album reminisces on Potton’s past experiences, which is not surprising as she has honed her craft within three continents: Australia, Asia and, more recently, North America. Producer and bassist Alan Hampton is to thank for the album’s sound; Hampton brought together Frank Locastro (piano), Bill Campbell (drums) and Ben Eunson (guitar), who each add a level of complexity to Nero. Inspired by jazz, soul and classical music, the album sparkles in harmony to accompany each genre.
The album begins on a cinematic note. “Airport” is dreamy, full of fluttering piano keys and Potton’s subtle, unwavering voice. “Other Side” picks up the pace with drums to keep tempo and timely electric guitar, the poetic words begging a lover not to leave. The album’s title-track is an indie pop bop. Potton’s voice ebbs and flows throughout the tune as she sings, “You’re always preaching the answers / you’re always playing the fool / offering only maybes / in the end it’s only you.” Light piano chords match Potton’s vocal melody for “Simple Wishes,” and her voice is the instrumental focus navigating “this highway of life” for “Little Talks.”
The Australian native then tackles Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning.” Potton adds a flair of musical theater and pumps a fuller sound into the cover. Pure emotion concludes the album, both in lyrics and production. The soulful guitar feels like it’s from a John Mayer intro, and the words are heartfelt: “I feel I’m runnin’ free on any road away from you / yet I spend my time, my days, maybe my life / trying so hard trying to forget you.” Nero feels as if it’s moving in slow-motion and, according to Potton’s interview with DL Media Music, this is the speed she was going for: “There’s a sense in a lot of the songs on the album of not being still, a restlessness and not wanting to be present in the moment.”
Nero is sincere in delivery and Potton’s voice is dainty and humble throughout. The album is romantic, though dreary at some points. However, the classically-trained pianist and vocalist has successfully churned out an imaginative dreamscape for her debut.