Review: Morgan Harper Nichols – Morgan Harper Nichols

MorganHarperNicholsSome families manage to get all the right genes. Whether you’re talking about the Crabb family, the Winans, or the Marley’s, it’s tough to argue that sometimes life seems a little tilted in which way it distributes its musical magic. Adding to that playful inequality is the family that’s given birth to two Jamie Grace and Morgan Harper Nichols. Grace is no stranger to the airwaves and while her sister has dabbled in recording, it’s with this self-titled release that Morgan Harper Nichols really makes her name known.

Nichols’ sound is definitely her own, feeling drawn from an acoustic template that is then colored in with earnest lyricism and tasteful accompaniments. And leading the way is Nichols’ distinctive voice, a voice that is truly unique, touched with just the slightest bit of grittiness that becomes apparent on her more emotive, powerful notes. It’s a voice that’s warm and welcome.

It’s fitting that Nichols begins the album off with a duet with her sister on the smooth intro track, “Storyteller,” getting her feet set but from there the artist shows that she is in no need of a crutch. Tracks like “Morning” show a solid sensibility with it’s bright, radio-friendly pop while “Where You Are” shines with its “in the round” feel, warm, organic percussion driving the playful acoustic worship tune.

“Grateful” resonates with simmers of mid-tempo pop, the artist’s vocals warm and relaxed while “Everyday People” carries a similar vibe. They’re the kind of tracks that you want to have blasting on an easy, breezy summer day. Twinges of banjo undergird “On You” before bursting out into a bright chorus and “Right Now” delivers slickly produced pop alongside encouraging lyrics.

But Nichols is at her best when she’s being the most transparent as she is on “I Can’t Save Myself.” Joined by Third Day lead singer Mac Powell, Nichols sings with her heart on her sleeve, delivering a lyric that boldly embraces out need and the Savior’s grace on what is perhaps the album’s strongest track. “Lead Me Back” pulls from a similar theme, Nichols’ vocals at perhaps their most emotive and showcasing her solid range, while another duet, this time with All Sons & Daughters on “A Prayer for Grace” resounds with truth and beauty before “Tough” ends things with a soulful prayer, longing for God’s strength in tough times.

On her debut, Nichols showcases a powerful voice, strong songwriting, and a sound that’s bound to be a hit at radio and more. It’s a package that’s bound to see her star grow brighter and have listeners reaching for the repeat button time and time again.

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