Nichole Wagner: And the Sky Caught Fire – The Review

Posted: July 14, 2018 in 2010s, 2018, Nichole Wagner
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Austin-based singer-songwriter Nichole Wagner delves into matters of the heart, the daily grind, and a little baseball via 10 melodic dispatches on And the Sky Caught Fire, her full-length debut. Her lyrical acumen is deft; she displays a poet’s knack for illuminating the soul. “The Winner Takes All,” which opens the set, is a good example.

With just a few well-placed brushstrokes, she paints a scene that reflects the fading embers of a relationship, or at least the last wisps of an unsettled night. “Too late now, can’t take back what’s been said/And the sky caught fire as the smoke curled around your head.”

“Dynamite,” the second song, is about life in a factory town after the factory’s been shut down: “I can’t see living in a dying town/It’s like I left my soul in the lost and found/Every night I say that tomorrow’s the day/Initiate, detonate, blow it up and walk away.”

Another highlight: “Yellow Butterfly,” about a brief encounter with a winged insect of the nice kind… 

“This Kind of Love,” which I’ve shared before, is another gem. Like many of the other songs, it’s about moving on from a failed relationship: “There was a time I was certain you were what I wanted/Then the feeling faded, it left me haunted.”

Her rendition of Warren Zevon’s “Reconsider Me” is another highlight.

“Sparks & Gasoline,” the closing track, may well be my favorite. It’s about a gal and guy who are “more like Stevie and Lindsey than Johnny and June” yet their love is true. “You and me babe, we’ll continue to sing/Our songs are different but they mean the same thing.” (If you listen, you’ll also hear a funny line about designated hitters in baseball.)

If you enjoy country-flavored folk, such as Tift Merritt, Nanci Griffith or Mary Chapin Carpenter, And the Sky Caught Fire is well worth picking up. It’s a keeper. 

The track listing: 

  1. Winner Takes All
  2. Dynamite
  3. Yellow Butterfly
  4. Rules of Baseball
  5. The Last Time
  6. This Kind of Love
  7. Let Me Know
  8. Fires of Pompeii
  9. Reconsider Me
  10. Sparks & Gasoline

(The album is available from the usual suspects, including Bandcamp, and can be streamed via Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube.)

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