Ramona Gonzales, under the moniker Nite Jewel
, has found herself on the radar of blogs and magazines a lot over the past two years. Her previous outings of bedroom disco were full of airy keyboards and her hazy cooing vocals. On One Second of Love
, Gonzales puts some meat on her sonic bones by genre-hopping between icy folk ballads, R&B, and even ’50s pop through the lens of David Lynch collaborator Julee Cruise. Does it all work? No, but the results are uniformly intriguing.
On album opener “This Story”, it’s clear that we’re in the hands of a confident artist. Gonzales’ vocals take center stage surrounded by an arsenal of instruments deployed on the production. The first single and title track, “One Second of Love”, proves to be an album high point, featuring a Devo-esque intro before blossoming into a sultry dance track. “Memory Man” best illustrates the maturation of Nite Jewel, featuring a driving disco bassline, her trademark sexy vocals, and even a countrified guitar solo.
Lyrically, Gonzales stays focused throughout, penning lovelorn words to varying effect. On “Mind & Eyes,” she shuffles through the headspace of a recent breakup. Although lyrically strong, the music treads much too closely to the realm of adult contemporary, sounding like something you’d expect to hear while waiting in line at the bank. On “Autograph”, Gonzales does her best Erykah Badu impression, but sadly the bouncy funk number just doesn’t work.
Those two missteps aside, Nite Jewel succeeds in crafting an album that is both lyrically and aurally rich. On album closer “Clive”, an otherworldly ballad, Gonzales sings, “No fun/no work/no play/amnesia will take it away.” There is very little on One Second of Love, however, that’s worth being forgotten.
Essential Tracks: “One Second of Love”, “Memory Man”, and “Clive”