It’s no small wonder that with such a glowing résumé in a relatively short period of time that the talented front-woman of Hiatus Kaiyote – Nai Palm (Naomi Saalfield), has decided to release a solo effort.
Whilst the omission of the usual layered sounds weaved by the rest of the band around Nai Palm’s voice are definitely missed on this record, Nai certainly holds her own with the skeleton crew of acoustic support and backing singers as her talented voice masterfully weaves through track after track. There are several familiar songs that feature on this project as Nai Palm’s powerful voice is showcased on re-works of Hiatus Kaiyote tracks – an interesting choice from Nai, that perhaps highlights a wish to present to fans and critics alike that independently her voice can hold its own.
“When the knife finds you with your,
Hands all tied and the silence holds the answers”
– Nai Palm – When the Knife
At times it is very difficult to know when one song ends and another begins on ‘Needle Paw’, although this isn’t necessarily damaging to the listening experience. In fact it could be seen as improving the experience as there are actually a couple of tracks that genuinely have multiple songs entwined within them, taking listeners on an aural journey; almost as if they were sitting in on a jam session. The choice to keep in the audible giggles of Nai and her supporting artists as well as sighs of relief when a song has been completed to their satisfaction (like on ‘Atari’) also gives ‘Needle Paw’ a very personal touch.
The personal touches continue with stand-out track ‘Crossfire/So Into You’ where after the original “Crossfire” portion of the song ends Nai Palm and her band surprise the listener with the first of a couple covers on the LP; a short tribute to Tamia’s 90s R&B hit ‘So into you’, which rounds off the track.
“How do I give love, when it’s serving only you?
A crossroad is better than a crossfire”
– Nai Palm – Crossfire/So Into you
With ‘Needle Paw’ Nai shows she’s not shying away from the spotlight with the cacophony of sounds that Hiatus Kaiyote sometimes provide. This is something she accomplishes with her gently assuring voice floating through the harder harmonies of each re-work, cover and original song.
Overall, whilst approximately half of the album is not new or original material ‘Needle Paw’ makes for an an enjoyable experience due to the undeniable raw talent, music that speaks for itself and the personality of a strong vocalist who will only improve further with time.
‘Needle Paw’ is out now via Sony Masterworks