I was too young to remember the moment, but I remember the feeling. My parents often remind me of a time when I was stopped dead in my tracks by a music video on VH1. Not more than two years old, I was with my family in the living room when Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” came on. I dropped what I was doing and stood but two feet from the television. This was more than just a song. Houston’s voice did more than just vocalize a melody. It took control. It was universally moving. It was the only thing that mattered in the world for those four and a half minutes. Not often does a singer come along with such a jaw-dropping voice. They’re elusive beings that bear incredible influence, and when they show themselves, time stops.
The best vocal performance of 2020 comes from Dutch singer/songwriter Nana M. Rose. Her latest single, “November,” is a deep, dark triumph. Lyrically, it’s an emotional examination of what it feels like to empathize with a loved one’s pain. Sonically, it’s a passionate piece decorated with filtered percussion, assertive piano, and a monumental string section layered into the background. The vocals are operatic, full, and ethereal. Rose’s voice is the main event. It’s moving and full of stamina—comfortable through the highs and lows. You wish it wouldn’t end; you want more. “What else can she do,” you wonder?
With each listen, the tune becomes increasingly captivating. Its roots grow deep. Perhaps even more important than her voice is her songwriting. The melody in the verses encapsulates the melancholy and cynicism of a film noir—a style made popular by Lana del Rey. The fleeting dissonance in its piano part is an enchanting tension-builder. In its entirety, the track is strong and romantic—reminiscent of something you might hear from Florence Welch or her contemporaries.
The wistful, Rotterdam-based singer/songwriter draws inspiration from mournful, vocal-power-players like Adele. She has the technique to assimilate with her peers and the originality to stand out. She’s toured the U.K., the U.S., and the Netherlands since breaking onto the scene in 2019. This past October, she released her debut, “Love Me Like I Love You,” and hit the ground running.
The undeniable talent of Nana M. Rose is placed center stage in this new offering. Though it’s only her second single, the song boasts years of experience and careful melodic-deliberation. With just the right balance of vehemence and commercial appeal, “November” promises so much more to come from an artist doing what she was born to do.
Written by Matt Kalicky