Material: New Jersey twins Nalani & Sarina could easily go in the direction of the typical singer/songwriter team, but their material showcases the opposite. They drown out the cute soft-pop quality with an indie, R&B edge for a hybrid sound of Leona Lewis meets Natasha Bedingfield meets the Veronicas.
Their discography is peppy yet soulful, and shows that they not only make commercially viable tracks but also have strong meanings behind them. These performers want to incorporate classic pop elements with modern indie pop for versatility, which shines through in tracks like “Runaway” and “Scattered Girl.”
They use their music as a bridge that builds relationships. Themes such as hardships in adulthood and striving for equality fuel relatable anthems for their audience to take into daily life.
Read more: New Music Critiques: Nalani & Sarina
Musicianship: Both sisters sing and play the same instruments so there are always chances for one to outshine the other. However, they combine their abilities in harmony to create an air of closeness between the two. Confidence and optimism is apparent in the duo’s vocals and exudes an uplifting vibe.
Performance: Nalani & Sarina bring balanced harmonies and compelling personalities to the stage without trying to overpower each other. In fact, both do their best to showcase individual musical abilities, instrumentally and vocally, and equally command their audience with a transitionally clean set.
It was clear the sisters were very tuned into each other as their timing never faltered when switching instruments or playing and singing at the same time. The girls successfully engaged with each other and knew when to step back when the other was having her moment, demonstrating strong communication between the two.
The majority of their set consisted of feel-good, energetic tracks (“Get Away,” “Please Don’t Stop The Rain”). “Raw Sugar” and “We’ll Be Free” inspired the crowd to clap along in support, and the duo utilized the ukuleles for a unique medley of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Piano-heavy ballads “Runaway” and “The One” stole the show with heartbreaking yet thought-provoking tones.
Summary: Nalani & Sarina branch out of the typical singer/songwriter box by focusing on upbeat tracks to keep their audience engaged. When they finally did perform a ballad, it was a real treat to see their emotional appeal and familial connection shine through with calculated vocals from both. The duo’s versatile style can easily be played on the car radio during a road trip or in the background of a sad scene in a movie, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this sister act.
Players: Nalani Bolton, vocals, piano, guitar, ukulele; Sarina Bolton, vocals, piano, guitar, ukulele.
Photo by Heather Allen
Venue: The Hotel Cafe
City: Hollywood, CA
Listen to Nalani & Sarina's song "We'll Be Free."
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