Almost all the songs on Nocturnal Blonde’s Smart Heart were co-written by brothers Dave and Ritchie Williams, but were recorded and formed after Dave suffered medical and mental complications from an overdose. With the help of Kevin Sims on bass, James Owen on percussion, and the soaring and often heartbreaking vocals of Rachel Grace, Smart Heart has become an album that creates beauty out of tragedy and brings awareness to the crisis that is the opioid pandemic.
The bluesy and bittersweet melody of “Drained” opens the album with the power of Grace’s vocals and a solid percussive foundation. One of the stronger tracks on the EP, the track introduces you to what Nocturnal Blonde are emotionally capable of. “Blown Away” and “Two Trees” dive into the eternity that sadness can sometimes feel like. “A little bad luck can go a long way,” Grace sings on “Blown Away”. But the album ends on a sweeter note with the duet of “Smart Heart”, in which the lyrics take a self-aware and self-possessed stance. It may not be optimistic, per se, but the power of the self is entangled with gentle percussion.
Smart Heart is an emotional stirring. Whether it’s a blues track, a ballad, or a short look into oneself through melody, there is a lot of weight in these notes. This is an important collection of sounds for both those who made it and those who get the opportunity to listen.