Vocalist and composer Nicky Schrire has announced the upcoming release of Nowhere Girl, a new album that reflects her desire to forge meaningful relationships and a sense of identity no matter where she goes.
Schrire was born in London and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. She moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music and, after nearly five years in the city, returned to Cape Town via London. She relocated to Toronto in 2020 and participated in JAZZ.FM91’s Discover Women in Jazz program in 2022.
“The album is called Nowhere Girl because I have lived in so many different places,” Schrire explains. “It is something for which I’m immensely grateful, but it increases a sense of belonging anywhere… and therefore nowhere.”
That, of course, makes its way into her music. “I identify as British and South African, while my love for both jazz and the singer-songwriter genres is a huge part of my musical aesthetic,” she continues. “It’s been challenging to figure out exactly what my sound is, given my heritage is a mixed bag.”
Listen to the first single, “Love is for the Birds”:
Nowhere Girl, her first album in 10 years, serves as something of a travelogue, with songs about the places that have shaped Schrire and her music. Her British heritage is audible in the folk influences of “A Morning” and “Father.” Her South African upbringing is present in “Closer to the Source” (music by the late South African pianist Bheki Mseleku and lyrics by Schrire) and “My Love” (featuring Mozambican guitarist Julio Sigauque). The years she lived in New York are summarized by “This Train,” and the one month she spent in Paris is captured by “In Paris.” There’s also a nod to Canada with Anna McGarrigle’s “Heart Like a Wheel.”
Schrire’s vocal style is shaped by contemporary jazz vocalists from all over, including Norma Winstone, Gretchen Parlato and Maria Pia De Vito. She also cites songwriters Randy Newman, James Taylor and Shawn Colvin as firm favourites. Nowhere Girl offers up nine original songs (plus two covers) that balance a reverence for songwriting and storytelling with the spontaneity of improvisation. “I’ve had ample time to write, reflect, edit, and strive to capture these songs as lean but vibrant vessels,” she says.
On the recording, she’s joined by pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin and drummer Ernesto Cervini (collectively known as the Juno-nominated trio Myriad3). Guest musicians include saxophonist Tara Davidson, vocalist Laila Biali and guitarist Julio Sigauque. The album was produced by Grammy-nominated producer Oded Lev-Ari (Anat Cohen Tentet), mixed by Brian Montgomery (Maria Schneider) and mastered by Jeff “Fedge” Elliott (The Weather Station).
Here’s the track listing:
- Nowhere Girl
- A Morning
- Closer to the Source
- This Train
- In Paris
- Heart Like a Wheel
- Love is For the Birds
- Keep It Simple
- My Love
Nicky Schrire’s Nowhere Girl is out June 9, 2023, via Anzic.