The EP was released on January 11th, 2021 with a runtime of 30 minutes 25 seconds. The 11-track project is an introspective look at Nigel transitioning through different situations in his life and thus the title Phases is quite fitting.
Nolan’s sound is reminiscent of artists like Kid Cudi, Travis Scott and Don Toliver in the way he blends rapping and vocals, using autotune as a tool to heighten the vibe of a track. Nolan does well in creating his own space within this sound, as his flow patterns, vocal inflections and cadence are particularly engaging.
Nolan starts off in the first half dealing with his emotions after being betrayed, the sullen mood shines through on the first few tracks. The intro song ‘UPGRADE’ and ‘VIBES’ convey the mellow tone of the first half with Nolan reflecting on his relationships after coming out of various situations.
We then reach a turning point with the ‘WHAT A TIME (INTERLUDE)’ coming halfway through the project. The tone is a lot more upbeat with lyrics like “We gonna get to the bag, we gonna get to the racks” coupled with Nolan’s energetic adlibs.
Nolan’s confidence grows as he accepts his situation and starts becoming more positive. Nolan’s newfound certainty is apparent on tracks like ‘GO’ and ‘A & F’ where he seems surer of himself and more optimistic about the future. Nolan’s ability to express his emotions organically while still making sure the project is sonically sound is impressive as it increases the replay value of the EP while still conveying the themes he set out to display.
Nolan’s choice of features in Alexander on ‘N/A’ and ‘DECEPTION’, Jay Browne on ‘A & F’ and Cardiak on ‘RIDE’ are a welcome addition to the project, with Jay Browne in particular stealing the show with his verse on ‘A & F’. The production across the project is great with a mix of high energy and more melancholy instrumentals. Featuring a mixture of R&B/Trap elements in his instrumentals Nolan’s production manages to capture both an emotional and hyped-up atmosphere at various points across the project.
There are a few points where the project does fall flat though. In some songs like ‘SALLY’S WORLD’ and ‘DECEPTION’ the execution falls flat with the use of autotune in some parts coming off as unnecessary. On some tracks like ‘VIBES’ the engineering could be better although these are easily correctable flaws. More versatility in beats in the latter half of the project would have been welcome as the last few tracks aren’t as engaging sonically as the rest of the EP.
Despite these critiques, Nolan’s debut project is solid with a consistent tone and impressive display from the upcoming artist. The standout tracks are ‘LIFTOFF!’, ‘WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE (INTERLUDE)’ and ‘GO’. Nolan’s potential is clear to see and this outing bodes well for whatever he decides to do next.
Top Track: LIFTOFF!
Enjoy the EP here: