A powerful big shot voice that’s very reminiscent of R&B/Soul greats such as Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan and the late great Amy Winehouse, but you can tell is still distinctively her own. Breakout Dutch R&B/Soul artist, Nicole Bus, was one of the biggest surprise breakout artists to suddenly emerge out of nowhere over the past couple years. Leading to a deal with Roc Nation in 2018, the singer released her very nostalgic and amazing debut single with the label, You, in December of last year. The very amazing Needlz-produced record that has a clever flip of Wu-Tang Clan’s classic, C.R.E.A.M., really helping set Bus with her soaring vocals as one of the new artists to really watch in a truly amazing crop of great and talented R&B/Soul artists that have emerged over the past several years. Who are keeping real R&B/Soul alive with a very nostalgic, yet still refreshing sound.
Bus along with producers Needlz and TL Cross, who not only produced all of her major label debut album, KAIROS, but co-executive produced the album. Really showing that nostalgic, yet still refreshing sound throughout all 14 tracks of the highly-anticipated album, which was released just over a couple of months ago. Records like the second single and opening record from the album, Mr. Big Shot, really setting the tone. As Bus shows off her very strong husk vocals over the very head-bobbing TL Cross & Needlz co-produced track. That has her singing the very catchy lyrics about someone who thinks cause they’re a big shot, she’s feigning over love and romance from them. When that’s far from the truth. The old-school, yet refreshing big vibes of the song really having most people truly obsessed with how soulfully great, big and refreshing it’s. Her very gifted and unique voice really taking the song to the next level.
The singer is at her best though when she joins both opposite ends of her emotional great range together on one song. Such as the joyful drums of the TL Cross-produced, Friend Indeed, showing the mournful joy in the beautifully soulful strong backing vocals. Working up to the light at the end of tunnel for the very emotionally amazing record. Which then perfectly segues into what’s easily one of the top two or three records on the album with the Needlz-produced, 411. The very amazing chants and spirits type backdrop perfect for Bus’ very amazing storytelling lyrics about, “What’s the 411?” Her very strong and soulfully beautiful vocals and voice bringing the very beautiful lyrics even more to life. Her voice and blend of Hip-Hop and Soul on records like, Unchanging Hand, so brilliant and perfect too. Especially with the way it so brilliantly flips the Kanye West classic, Heard ‘Em Say, sample into a very amazing and wonderful Gospel song. Even the Reggae-inspired instrumental of, Comfort Me, able to let Bus show the various different styles she has and can execute to perfection.
As the album starts to shift towards the second half it gets even better too. With such lovely and beautifully touching deep heartfelt records like the guitar-driven almost acoustic like sounds of, Love Is. Which truly hits you in your soul with Bus’ just as beautifully touching and deep heartfelt lyrics and vocals. That perfectly seguing into what’s easily the best track on the album with, Rain. The faltering drum breaks of the Al Green, I’m Glad Your Mine, sample and the piano being replayed from the Busta Rhymes, Everybody Rise, sample, really matching up well with her truly beautifully soulful smooth and sultry voice. The record so beautiful, cinematic and refreshing, it sounds like it could be in a James Bond movie. Bus’ great use of samples continues on the Suzanne Vega sample/interpolate of Tom’s Diner on the very beautiful and colorful, With You. Once again showing off and complementing her beautifully soulful voice.
Producer Needlz and his masterful great work of samples throughout the album the perfect marriage to Bus’ very beautifully soulful gifted and soothingly sultry vocals. Which is evident yet again on the standout track, S.O.S. Which finds Needlz flipping a perfect sample of Nas’ classic, It Ain’t Hard to Tell, into the perfect backdrop for the singer’s painful lyrics about how hard it’s to get through a lot of the very hard and painful times one goes through in life. That’s also shown on the great piano-laden backdrop of, Look Up To the Sky, which samples an unreleased Isaac Hayes record. A very beautiful and melodic record that truly shows off Bus’ very passionate and soulful vocals, while also her ear for great melodies. A record that even despite the somewhat lonely nights on the brink of despair lyrics, is relaxing and beautifully smooth enough to toast over to life’s successes as well.
Though the great samples used throughout really help bring the old-school nostalgic feel of Bus’ sound even more to life. There’s a lot of great records that don’t use them on, KAIROS, as well. Evident from the TL Cross-produced, Stand Next to Me. Which is a very beautifully emotional record about all the emotions one goes through as motivation to a more beautiful and complete life. Bus’ very passionate and soulfully beautiful, as well as extraordinary lyrics over the lofty runs bringing those lyrics even more to life.
Overall it’s a very phenomenal album that’s not only a true breath of fresh air in R&B. But a truly timeless, yet underappreciated album that’s among not only the best albums in R&B, but of the year period in music. Also among the better debut albums to come out over the past several years. Bus shows with her very nostalgic and old-school, yet refreshing sound that she has a very promising career and will be here for several years to come. A true hidden gem talent that this album will hopefully even break her from.