East London’s Nicola Thoms is primarily influenced by soul and RnB icons such as Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, along with fond memories of long car journeys with her parents which were always playing the likes of Candi Staton, Teddy Pendergrass and Michael Jackson – artists that she continues to draw inspiration from today. Pendergrass himself is a particular-favorite and not a name you hear enough anymore. And Nicola Thoms does them all justice and then some. She also credits current artists such as Amy Winehouse, Lianne La Havas, Jessie Ware and Nao.
She combines a lot of that soul history with contemporary aspects to her music, and “Beautiful Mind” is her new breakout single. This is an artist with everything it takes to bring that big style of the 80s back. There’s plenty of other influences in there but they round out to her own brand of RnB and Pop, rather than a sum of her combined influences. She just makes good on the mention of them and it helps to know from what era she’s mostly coming and where it’s going. But to arrive at her own destiny is the ultimate prize, and this song is as original as they come.
The first thing you notice about her in this song is the way her voice resonates out of the first line, and you know you’re in for a special voice. The beats come second to mind, as they wind up the driving force behind her amazing vocal prowess, as they perfectly compliment her vocal delivery. The closest she comes to her mentioned influences on this track is somewhere between that of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, with some Amy Winehouse to freshen it up. And while that sounds like a tall order, she aces the combo. The songwriting does the rest, and there’s nothing left but a flawless track to marvel at.
It’s not just about the beauties of the mind, but also the heart, which she repeats so adamently in the song which is all about her grandfather, who she and her sister considered their anchor through his amazing sense of humor, as she describes it. The backing arrangement never takes over because her voice is so strong it attributes more to her hypnotic timbre and you’re instantly captivated by it. These are big vocals with her own background vocals weaved nicely over them. The way only singers like Chaka Khan are well known for, which renders her a great throwback as well as a contemporary.
This single takes the best of old school values and slaps a sheen over it which Nicola Thoms can be proud of achieving, as anyone would. It’s the result of both creativity and hard work to follow it up and release a superior single for the masses. There’s a rising spirit to “Beautiful Mind” and Nicola Thoms as an artist in general, as the song pulsates well beyond its 4:33 running time and stays in your head after hearing it. The memorable quality is another reason the track earns top marks with its world class appeal. You feel everything she emotes, and you just want to hear more of Nicola Thoms, after this absolute gem.