OTwo Reviews: Nancy Kate's EP, Above The Water

Image Credit: Image Credit: Luke Reddy

OTwo Editor, Isabella Ambrosio, unveils Irish singer-songwriter Nancy Kate’s Americana, alt-indie debut EP, Above the Water.

Nancy Kate is from South Dublin – but her use of folk and Americana-style techniques says otherwise. Before realising her true calling was music, Nancy Kate Murphy’s first career was her academic career as a UCD student. Above the Water is the fruit of her discovery, a cohesive EP that maintains a linear train of thought from the first track, ‘Nomad Song (Still Hangin’ On)’ to the final notes of her last track, ‘I’ll Be There.’ This is a thematic EP, a real, recollection and processing of childhood, turbulent relationships, and an inner turmoil born from the pain of coming of age. Her voice is powerful and assured as she seamlessly blends airy higher passages with raw, powerful belting.

‘Nomad Song (Still Hangin’ On)’ channels an acoustic, folk side of Nancy Kate you would not expect. The song opens the EP with beautiful harmonies concealed but not overshadowed by the main vocals, and a melody that carries you whether you like it or not. Truth be told, there is something slightly haunting about this track. As a matter of fact, the entire EP feels like it is imbibed or haunted. Listen closely and you will hear whispers of eeriness, of something unsettling. Feel Nancy Kate channel that youthful angst and fear of the unknown. Another single to remember is, ‘Rain Interlude’ which notoriously is a completely instrumental piece. Although it has no vocals, the piano is stunning and somewhat hypnotic with its ternary rhythm. it circles over and over before halting just before the final note, creating this anticipation for a continuation, for a drop, that never comes ...

‘Mother Wound’ is a particularly difficult track to listen to. The emotional pull of Nancy Kate’s vocals and descriptive songwriting mesh into a song about those we take pleasure in not giving us the love we deserve. The acoustic guitars, drums, and backing vocals drive the song along, but the raw honesty and vulnerability of Nancy Kate’s lyrics are the standout of this track. 

Closing the EP with ‘I’ll Be There,’ Nancy Kate uses the classic style of a ballad to comfort those closest to her, to let them know that she’ll be there (literally) for all of their darkest moments and ugliest sides. Her powerful, yet poised vocals are supported by a grand piano, a slight echo, adding to that slightly haunting atmosphere. Her songs, her melodies, her words – will stick with you. That is a promise. 

An unbelievably polished debut EP, Nancy Kate’s ability to tap into the shared human experience of loving, changing, and processing our connection to others and the world. Above The Water is a heartbreakingly empathetic tale of coming-of-age that all 20-somethings can relate to.