If you count her live E.P., Live Take, Way in the World is Scottish singer-songwriter/guitarist Nina Nesbitt’s fifth E.P.
Like many before her, Nina began her career informally by recording songs in her bedroom and posting videos on Youtube, where she quickly garnered millions of plays. Early on, she met Ed Sheeran and he asked her to open for him on his European tour, which she happily did. (She also appeared in his video for the song “Drunk.”) She was also invited to open for Example after he heard her “Stay Awake” cover and she happily did that, too. Before long, she was headlining her own U.K. tour and she’s since done a second one as well. Meanwhile, her E.P.s The Apple Tree and Stay Out did very well, The Apple Tree even reaching number one on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart in the U.K. after getting regular airplay on BBC Radio 1.
An awful lot of singer/songwriters seem to be trying to be the next Ed Sheeran lately and you’d think Nina would be one of them, given her affiliation with him, but her sound is more upbeat and pop-influenced.
“Way in the World” is an insanely catchy number centered around an up-tempo, galloping beat and highly caffeinated acoustic guitar. “I’m working in a retail store / It’s not where I’m cutout for,” begins the vibrant tune, Nina’s Scottish accent revealing itself in her inflections in an entirely charming manner. “Do you ever, do you ever, do you wonder? / Wonder where your dreams go?,” goes the beginning of the infectious chorus.
Nina’s accent is even stronger during “Brit Summer,” but you don’t have to strain yourself to understand her vocals at all, as she manages to sound as clear and understandable as she does Scottish. It’s a super energetic, almost frenzied tune that hooks you immediately during the first verse. By the time it reaches the chorus, you’ll be tapping your foot and wishing that you knew the lyrics already so you could sing along. (“It’s the great British summer with you,” she bursts out.) Although the song is listed as a demo, it certainly doesn’t sound like one, the production polished if not shining. In addition to her turbo-charged acoustic guitar playing, the song features electrifying piano and a super peppy beat.
“Not Me” starts off sounding like a down-tempo ballad, Nina’s guitar melancholic. “I only pushed you away / hoping you’d come back someday / soon,” goes the emotive bridge. When it reaches the chorus, it proves to be just as vigorous as the previous two tracks. “When your life starts to hurt / you’re the one to blame,” she sings, animated and angry. “Don’t come running back, running back to me.”
The final track, “Spiders,” is my favorite. It mostly consists of Nina and her acoustic guitar, but it’s the most affecting song here and arguably her most potent song to date. “I’m just a little fly sitting on your wall,” she sings, heart-broken, like an actress on the verge of tears. It’s more than touching — it’s haunting. “‘Cause now you come crawling boy / Like spiders in the night,” goes the lovesick chorus. But it’s not a sappy song — it’s clearly from the perspective of a girl who has not only lived but learned.