Release Date 12/02/2021
New York City-based artist, Nisa, is to release her second EP, Time To Plant Tears on December 2, 2021. The new collection of music arrives as the second body of work from the artist– full name Nisa Lumaj – following on from her self-released EP, Guilt Trip that arrived earlier this year to positive acclaim from buzz-building sites.
Born to Albanian immigrants in the Bronx, Nisa learned to speak Albanian before English and grew up listening to the traditional folk music of her parent’s native country. It wasn’t long before she began venturing out into what she describes to be a “diverse and accepting arts community,” playing regularly at open mic nights in high school and joining a rock collective in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Her exploration of songwriting began when she was advised to lean into the rock stylings of the Eagles as an introduction to the guitar, from here she developed her own way of storytelling while referencing the likes of PJ Harvey, Björk and Radiohead as other key cornerstones to her approach.
Early in 2021, the 22-year-old began work on a new collection of songs that would make up the forthcoming EP, Time To Plant Tears. The title takes its name from the final stanza of an Elizabeth Bishop poem called Sestina. Working together with collaborator and producer, Ronnie Di Simone, the songs were recorded between Brooklyn's Studio G and the Brick Box studio. The new EP demonstrates Nisa's penchant for intimate storytelling cast against the backdrop of glistening, cinematic soundscapes reminiscent of Angel Olsen, Indigo De Souza, Japanese Breakfast and Soccer Mommy. In describing the mood of the EP, Nisa has said that the songs are centered around “confrontation and focus; weathering internal and external changes; desire, and emotional rebirth.” Intersecting cinematic and poetic frames of reference, it lands between what is said and what is felt.
Opening track and lead single, "St James Gate" was inspired by Sally Rooney's novel, Normal People, with Nisa feeling deeply affected by Rooney's descriptions of love in private spaces. Sonically, it's a track that ebbs and flows, building from the intimate into a blistering horn solo that is to remind us of breaking free from emotional claustrophobia. One of the standouts on the EP, "Cold" was written with frequent collaborator, Fritz Ortman who took inspiration from The Cars' "Just What I Needed" with the wirey guitar line. "We're In For It" explores untimely ends and hesitant beginnings – "It’s an admission of futility shrouded by the pull and intensity of desire. I wrote it as a means of capturing a moment I knew was bound to cave in, but couldn’t exactly let go of then and there," explains Nisa.
Elsewhere, "Optic Nerve" explores the difference between being unapologetically yourself and straight-up unapologetic, "The Savior" is a call for herself to stop prioritizing other's needs over her own and to give some time back to herself whereas EP closer, "Unthinkable" looks at what it means to grow apart from someone who you have known for a long time. Tracks on Time To Plant Tears present clear-eyed wisdom, something that, despite only being on her second EP, you would generally find much further down the line. Explorations of her own feelings and sense of herself are delivered in a vulnerable manner alongside astute, determined music.
Returning to New York in 2020 after a year spent living in East London, Nisa recorded and self-released her debut EP, Guilt Trip, a garage-pop collection of songs rooted in themes of emotional detachment and miscommunication which found Lumaj fans in Atwood Magazine, Audiofemme and more with the EP charting at #14 in the NACC's Top 200 charts. Following the release of Guilt Trip, Nisa has gone on to perform a couple of early shows in her hometown including a sold-out performance at The Bowery Ballroom in August 2021.