Material: Minnesota transplant Lauren Nikohl (born Lauren Tomhave) is gearing up for the release of her album Ascend, inspired by the drama and tragedy of recent world events. This follows Nikohl’s 2015 album In The Night, various collaborative tracks in 2016, and her subsequent single “Against The Wind.” The singer-songwriter’s latest livestream show encourages existential thinking and a shift in the collective consciousness of her followers. As shown in poignant tracks like “When The Fear Arrives,” “The Hero’s Journey” and “Grow,” she is on a mission to wake humanity to potential and a focus on love rather than fear.
Musicianship: At ease accompanying herself on keys and guitar, Nikohl can deliver gentle vocal glides, a stunning falsetto and a subtle vibrato in gorgeous tones. Covering Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” she creates beautiful lyrical interpretations. Accompanist Jeff Landby has a strong command of the violin and offers confident support to the overall sound of the performance. His ability to anticipate fosters seemingly effortless musical communication between the two performers.
Performance: The upbeat pop single “Grateful for This Day” kicked off the show, conveying the simple positive encouragement to stand in gratitude for what is. While the music was poetic and there was a lovely harmonic interplay between Nikohl’s voice and Landby’s backing vocals and violin runs, the artistry felt somewhat overshadowed by a lack of engagement between songs, which could have been alleviated through more eye contact with the camera. The duo seemed most open and natural on “Overthinking” and “Who Am I,” featuring Nikohl on guitar and Landby’s violin.
Summary: With an overall indie-pop feel, Lauren Nikohl’s performance has a bohemian edge, meeting somewhere between Natalie Imbruglia, Adele and early Stevie Nicks. Listeners with a penchant for social awareness will appreciate Nikohl’s hopeful narrative and altruisitic motivation, in addition to her colorful melody lines and smooth, cheerful vocal runs. A great show to catch live at a local pub or small venue.
Players: Lauren Tomhave, lead vocals, keys; Jeff Landby, backing vocals, guitar, violin