Coming out her roaring twenties, Heather Nova emerged seasoned and confident that her spiritual inquisitions and broken hearts were healing. She chases love in her songs; she's a passionate romantic and a seeker of a pure surrounding. Her fourth album, South exudes Nova's typical fervor, but with a knowledge not found on her previous records. She's comfortable with this batch of work. Her voice is relaxed and weathered, but welcoming and warm. Debut single "Virus of the Mind" is a funky jam of breezy acoustics and pianos, with Nova's near spoken word vocals quirky and self-assured; however, the sweetly pretty "If I Saw You in a Movie" breathes new freshness. Nova is no longer the boisterous vocal banshee. She's found a place where she wants to live, musically and emotionally. South, which was recorded in Nova's native Bermuda, is snug in those things alone. Commercially, she's more attainable, and that's perfectly fine. The Bernard Butler-produced "I'm No Angel" twirls with jaunty riffs, and it's probably Nova's best bid for a lush pop song. She's cheeky, but the quivering ethereality of her voice is sheer and glossy. She leaves her acoustic guitar behind for the slick "Help Me Be Good to You," while the dark and tantalizing Billie Holiday track, "Gloomy Sunday," proves her need for something new. Heather Nova has ventured out on South, delving into the pop side for her own inventions. Fans who aren't accepting of such a move might be critical; new listeners might find South her easiest album. It's great and not terribly fragile. She's found something solid on this one.
by MacKenzie Wilson