Nina Diaz - The Beat is Dead
San Antonio native Nina Diaz has spent the majority of her adolescence and her young adult life honing her punk vocal stylings by fronting Girl in a Coma. In 2014, she stepped away from the band in order to work on and release her debut solo album, The Beat is Dead. With its release, Diaz is now clearly focused on more than just excelling in punk and has both the vocal range and instrumental capabilities to stretch into pop or straight forward rock.
There’s a defining emotional backbone that runs through the heart of The Beat is Dead, most notably on tracks like the album closer, “Morticians Musician”, sultry-smooth “Dig”, and single “January 9th”. The latter’s refrain smacks of the self-referential understanding one gets only after suffering a painful split from a loved one, be it friend, family, or lover. “I don’t want to be the bad one, I don’t to be the sad one that you find.” When coupled with the wailing guitars, smoky vocals, and the soft drums, we’re given a track that feels pulled straight out of a 70’s era time capsule.
One of the more remarkable aspects of this capable debut, is that a song as emotionally powerful and compelling follows up the pop leaning and album standout “Rebirth”. On “Rebirth”, Diaz impressively yo-yo’s her voice all across the map, allowing her verses to elongate and adopt an almost improvisational nature. She wraps the lyrical focal point throughout the back half of the track, winding down and eventually closing the song out with strength.
Nina Diaz has loaded down her debut, going all in on her songwriting and vocal talent. When the album finally rests, we’ve spent 50 minutes with The Beat is Dead. With 13 fully fleshed out entries, the album feels slightly overstuffed. This causes some otherwise notable tracks to slip through the cracks, like album oddities “Queen Beats King” and “Young Man”. On a lesser record, one not replete with singularly focused rock tracks, these songs may have had a chance to step out. “Queen Beats King” would feel at home following Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” at an 80’s dance party, but here it proves strange when bridging the gap between opener “Trick Candles” and, aforementioned, “January 9th”.
Ultimately, Nina Diaz infuses The Beat is Dead with a style and heart indicative of an artist with much more in their solo discographies. It shouldn’t be surprising, however, as she’s been getting ready for this moment since she was 12 and now that it’s here, she excels.
Listen to it - Standout Track - Rebirth