FOR some years now, Balerno-raised Nina Nesbitt has been a star waiting to happen, a singer-songwriter of some ability who hasn’t quite hit the bulls-eye in terms of capturing the public’s imagination. A couple of her songs have grazed the top 40 and her 2014 debut album Peroxide nearly went top ten, but she was dropped by her label after the record’s release, and until now she’s gathered most column inches and online hits for her short relationship with Ed Sheeran.
Liquid Room, Edinburgh ****
Yet to see her play a low-key Tuesday night set in her home city to a packed and devoted crowd – most of them young women who know every word of her old tracks – is to wonder why she’s not yet huge. Nesbitt is confident, funny in a very dry way, and her songs are effortlessly relatable, particularly to those young female fans. Like Taylor Swift, who she told us that she was obsessed with as she wrote Noserings and Shoestrings in her teenage bedroom in 2011, Nesbitt’s songs are about empowering the subject, not worshipping the object.
Loyal to Me is a good example, which Nesbitt, now also a songwriter for others, told us was inspired by ‘90s R&B, and was imagined for a girl band like Little Mix. “It’s about the symptoms of dating a f***boy – just block and delete them,” she laughed, to loud applause, before acoustically bemoaning the kind of hapless partner who “ain’t got a job/says he models on the side.”
Yet while it was this kind of wistful acoustic sound which made her name, it’s the icily contemporary electronic tracks of a more recent vintage which show off the elegance and maturity of Nesbitt’s songwriting, particularly Empire and the hit-in-waiting (over a million YouTube hits and counting) Somebody Special. Fame can’t come soon enough.