If you take a listen to Nicole Byblow, you might think that Winnipeg singer/songwriter’s musical influences are more closely linked to Beethoven than The Beatles.
But the 22-year-old pianist has the Fab Four to blame for tuning her ear to music.
“I remember when I was really young, I said something about how I liked The Beatles,” Byblow recalls. “My dad turned to me and was like ‘how the hell do you know about the Beatles?”
While it may not be stylistically evident on Unabashed, Byblow’s debut EP, that she was raised on a healthy diet of ‘60s counter-culture records, the pianist has taken a wonderfully old-school approach to her tunes, drawing on a myriad of influences that include vintage jazz, British Invasion-era rock ‘n’ roll and “hippies and folksingers that walked around barefoot with their broken guitars.”
Beautifully textured songs like the stunning Falling in You and the prettily dark Without a Soul make it hard to believe that someone of such a young age can already pen songs that capture such intimately personal meaning.
Then again, Byblow isn’t exactly new to the craft of songwriting.
The rural Manitoba native picked up the piano at 9-years-old. Delving into classics that had her playing everything from poetic romance to cryptic baroque, Byblow has since completed her grade 9 Royal Conservatory exam—and is already a seasoned pianist.
Tickling the ivory wasn’t the only passion she discovered early on. Byblow started singing publicly when she was 10, and has been crafting her delicate, hyper-feminine vocals ever since. Byblow began filling notebooks with her own lyrics at the age of 15, and discovered her penchant for songwriting.
When Byblow performs, it’s often with just her voice, her hands and the stage. But when it was time lay her songs down on a record, Byblow got herself a backing band to create a more filled-out sound on the EP, which is comprised mostly of original songs. The songstress teamed up with Lyle Giesbrecht (drums), Dave Miller (bass) and Adam Mlodzinski (guitar). Mlodzinski worked behind the board as well, producing, mastering and mixing.
Though the first song she ever wrote served as post-relationship catharsis for a grade 10 heartbreak (she survived), Unabashed is saturated with her mature lyrical prowess. Unafraid to be utterly exposed in her music, Byblow’s writing honest style ultimately became an underlying theme in her record.
“Unabashed is how I write,” Byblow says. “It’s how my songs are. Everything is out there. It’s just me and what I’m feeling. There is no ‘this isn’t cool enough.’ There are no excuses. I try to be as honest and as truthful as a possibly can.”
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