Classifying the music of Nina Karlsson would probably result in a label far more obscure and foreign than her music itself. Karlsson, along with bassist Victor Sankov and drummer Sasha Popatov, mixes elements of jazz and electronica, ending up with a very unique, eerie sound.
Her voice has a fragility reminiscent of Regina Spektor, especially on tracks like “Bored and Tired,” though Karlsson cites jazz great Billie Holiday as a primary influence.
The latter influence is evident in Karlsson’s willingness to branch out and experiment with her voice, even delving into some scat singing on “Follow the Dancers” and “I Deny.”
However, some of Karlsson’s songs (“Goodbye”) seem haunted by the ghost of big band jazz, which enjoyed continued popularity throughout the latter half of the 20th century in the Soviet Union, long after it had largely died out in the United States.
Nina Karlsson’s approach to music, as a piano-based singer-songwriter, would hardly be unconventional were it not for the way the music is produced. Karlsson’s voice is modulated and distorted, along with the piano and bass, creating a gloomy atmosphere in the tradition of fellow Russian singer Zemfira, particularly her song Любов как Смерть (Love like Death).
For having just released her first album last week, Karlsson sounds very mature and is a very exciting prospect. According to an interview with Russian music blog Far from Moscow, she still has no plans to tour the United States in the near future, but doesn’t know what the future might bring.