Reviewed by Trevor Kirk
Hindsight is always 20/20 - so the saying goes. Comparing work released in 1999 with stuff put out 10 or more years earlier can be counter-productive, but nevertheless it's sometimes fascinating to see how a singer's style, material and performance has altered (for better or worse), and speculate on the reasons why. In the case of Nia, the last dozen years, since she made her recording debut in 1987 for the old Pulse/Ears & Eyes label, have seen improvement in all areas. In the sleevenotes to 'Artist's Heart' she confesses that, when she listens to the songs, she often hears a tired, frustrated young woman who's struggling with spinning all the plates of life - and the sense of honesty and vulnerability is clear in 11 original numbers that she and Mal Pope have written for the album. 'Colours Of The Artist's Heart' conveys the mood perfectly: "Each colour tells a story of tragedy and glory/The good, the bad, the ugly, making one fine piece of art/The white would not seem bright if the black were not so dark/'Cos life is learning the colours of the Artist's heart." The feel is pop-cum-country, the production is impeccable, her voice has never been better, and this is in my humble opinion the best thing she's ever done. A fine album with the potential to gain the support of American Christian radio.
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