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Single Review: Keyawna Nikole “Secrets”

“I’ve been counting all the steps from the bed to the sink / It’s the farthest that I’ve got in five days, maybe a week / Can I tell you a secret?” Keyawna Nikole serenades, continuing “I’ll pretend that it’s not eating me alive / Yeah, I’ll pretend / I’ll pretend that I’m doing just fine”

These lyrics draw forth from the floodgates to a smorgasbord of emotive admissions that make up the whole of the this alternative rocker’s latest single, but they aren’t the only decadent gems to behold in the song’s three minutes of play. Fitted with a hard guitar part that ushers us closer to the melody and away from the distress of everyday life, “Secrets” welcomes listeners of all tastes into a realm of artistry that is Keyawna Nikole’s own, and if you haven’t already caught wind of her fascinating style of rock music I would recommend this track as a great place to start.

In addition to the single, Nikole shot a video for “Secrets” that feels quite gripping. Filmed with her collaborator Kellin Quinn, the video takes us into a dark zone only to navigate its way to catharsis all too brilliantly. We watch as tension grows out of the energy that the night has to offer, but Nikole’s singing remains the only real object of our affection. There’s an exotic bend in her voice (and later the control she demonstrates over the riff) accentuated in the chorus that is perfectly timed with each burst of intensity in the video, and instead of just picturing what she’s lyrically illustrating we’re witnessing it before our eyes in high definition live action.

The recording of the song on its own is stunningly captivating and features a mix that is essentially devoid of the tinny treble that frequently plagues modern rock singers. The crunch in the guitar and the sleek execution of the bass parts shine like a pair of rubies, but they never interrupt the flow of Nikole’s singing, which is as smooth as silk and worthy of its placement at center stage. I’d be curious to hear a fully stripped-down acoustic version of this song. I think in that scenario there would be no question that the skin and bones of the melody originate from Keyawna Nikole exclusively, who could likely play this song with nothing more than a guitar in her hands and still bring down the house just the same.

Bolstered by affectionate harmonies and passionate lyricism the likes of which had only been hinted at in rival releases, “Secrets” is a game-changing single and video for Keyawna Nikole, whose rise to prominence in the rock underground has been swift and certain from day one. What gets me is that even though she’s honing her style and filtering the best attributes in her skillset she isn’t getting egomaniacal or self-centered in her songwriting. Her lyrics, and her music for that matter, are levelheaded and accessible despite their overwhelmingly personable qualities. This single has pop hooks and a heavy beat to satisfy more casual rock fans as well as diehard aficionados, which isn’t too common anymore.

Stacey Winter


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