The surroundings for this homecoming show may have been intimate, but Nina Nesbitt’s songs deserve to be heard in arenas, writes David Pollock
Nina Nesbitt, Liquid Room, Edinburgh ****
“I’ve loved country music since I heard Taylor Swift in the back of the Balerno music class when I was 15,” said Nina Nesbitt, before a beautifully-performed off-the-mic version of her song Heirlooms, with three-part harmonies from support acts Lonelytwin and Katelyn Tarver. Nesbitt’s admiration for Swift’s music is already well-known, but hearing her mentioned onstage at this hometown gig threw the comparison into sharp relief.
The Liquid Room is perhaps a more intimate concert venue than Swift is used to playing, but it was full for Nesbitt’s visit, and she enjoyed the same kind of commanding intimacy with her crowd – particularly the female majority in the audience – that her hero enjoys in huge arenas.
Nesbitt’s songwriting is both precise and relatable to the experience of being a young woman, and educational for anyone else; for example, the sense of manipulation and naivety she blends in Older Guys, about dating a university student as a 16-year-old. There was a nice touch, too, where she played the piano ballad Last December – about a boyfriend she split from then reunited with – then segued into Colors of You, a sequel about their ongoing relationship.
Late in the set her style shifted into a sleek, synthesized pop, with songs like Chewing Gum and Cry Dancing more reminiscent of Robyn than Taylor Swift. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise, however, given that Nesbitt’s new album Älskar references her Swedish heritage (it means “loves”) and that her 80-year-old Swedish gran had her own dedicated song here, Dinner Table.
The surroundings may have been intimate, but the style, melodies and emotional precision of Nesbitt’s songs deserve their own arenas.