Nina Leo review by Vince Leigh
Nina Leo’s sophomore single is a flying leap into garage blues rock terrain. Although her debut Recover showed signs of a similarly aligned percolating edge, Break the Renegade displays a more strident, boots-and-all embodiment of that approach.
Leo’s expulsions are wedded to a stadium-ready drum groove. This cruises alongside a swaggering, central bass and guitar riff that’s as majestically ragged as the best rock riffs go.
The verses are suitably downplayed, with melody and low vocal register providing the perfect foil for the following slide up the scale and the tremulous density of the chorus. Punctuated by guitar chimes and an incremental increase in energy level, the pre-chorus—or variated verse section, or hook, or whatever you want to call it depending on what might reel you in—guides us from the lyric:
You will never break the renegade
And we’re back to the recurring riff once more, with a higher register reiterating this lyric.
In some ways, this structure is quintessentially rock. Still, what gives it its more compelling, soulful bite is Leo’s determined grit. When fused to the raucous nature of the guitar and the affiliated dynamics, the result is a thumping musical enterprise.
Nina Leo saves the biggest roar til last
By the time the surprise bass break is done – and we’re back in the maelstrom of riff, drums and vocal – one figures Nina Leo has taken her hellbent fury as far as it could go. But we’re soon exposed to another peak. Perhaps the most enticing—the altered dominant guitar riff and a series of ‘Heys’ that one imagines losing themselves to at the finale of a show.
It’s real pub floor abandon at its most stupefying.
Rawness proportionate to a communicational level of artistic expertise is an idealistic kind of balance at the best of times. Yet, with Break the Renegade this equilibrium is as close as it might get.
You can listen to Nina Leo on Spotify or Apple Music.