Far Away Dreaming, the debut EP from singer-songwriter, guitarist, and pianist Amber Nicholson is an intimate exploration of love, loss, and perseverance.
Nicholson shares, “I make music because it’s a safe place to let myself go. Music helps release to the world and the people that are nearest me. I see it as a way to contribute to my community, as both an artist and individual.”
At the age of five, Nicholson began playing piano, with the ambition of becoming a concert pianist. In middle school, she sang in the school choir, followed by taking part in traditional choirs and show choirs while in high school. Initially interested in classical music, she ventured into modern music and learned guitar.
Later, she studied jazz vocal music at the University of North Texas, and impressions of jazz waft through her music. Then she began singing in clubs and lounges, along with cover bands that toured the Southwest and Canada.
Prior to going solo, Nicholson was the lead singer and front person for the indie band Relick, which released singles, albums, and EPs. Her EP, Far Away Dreaming, reflects influences of artists such as Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, Allen Toussaint, Allison Krauss, Gram Parsons, Sue Foley, Regina Spektor, Little Willie John, and Lee Dorsey, yet is inimitably her own.
Encompassing five tracks, Far Away Dreaming begins with “Heart To Stone,” a drawling, bluesy tune dripping with an elegant edge. At once smoldering and a bit dreamy, Nicholson’s voice imbues the lyrics with savors of love gone bad.
“I had to turn my heart to stone so I could let you go / I had to rock the boat so I could roll back home / All of this goes to show you never know until you really know / I had to turn my heart to stone.”
Highlights include “Oh (Where Are You),” rolling out on a poignant, gleaming piano as a wistful cello adds sighing accents. Soft and velvety, Nicholson’s gorgeous vocals infuse the lyrics with longing nostalgic savors.
“My Silence” travels on shadowy colors atop a potent, mid-tempo rhythm, while Nicholson’s darkly musing tones give the song moody, pensive textures.
Talking about “My Silence,” Nicholson shares, “It can be overwhelming during the end of a relationship to have to explain to other people what happened. It’s easier to stay quiet. Silence becomes something very valuable to me in those times.”
The final track, “That I Believe,” oozes sleazy blues surfaces, simmering with dissatisfaction and loneliness. Perhaps the best song on the EP, “That I Believe” reveals the dynamic range of Nicholson’s voice, at once sultry and heartbreaking.
“No point did you stop to see my face / Tears falling down upon my plate / Talking my ear off how the people in your life have let you down / That I believe.”
Packed with tints of jazz and blues, Far Away Dreaming is gorgeously wrought, full of sleek rhythms and the memorable voice of Amber Nicholson.