Nalada tells stories without lyrics

By Larissa Gula

Not every album needs lyrics to tell a story. Nalada

Lisa Miles



Rocks Like: Cello Fury

Not every album needs lyrics to tell a story.

Such is the case with Lisa Miles’ Nalada, the most recent release in her 25-year history of performing. A Pittsburgh-based artist, Miles is a violinist and composer known for combining classical styles with punk rock rhythms and creating dark and meditative music. Her latest album manages to tug at the emotions of the listeners by using sound instead of words to tell tales.

Nalada, which means “mood” in Czech, features original compositions used in live, collaborative performances with other artists. The album is completely instrumental, primarily featuring violin, cello, bass, harp and guitar, among other instruments.

The lack of lyrics doesn’t make for boring music, though. Miles’ songs all set a different mood and manage to tell listeners a story. Often, the meanings behind the songs are in their titles, as well as in pitch and tempo.

Take, for example, the softly melodic track, “Now I See Myself” — an obviously self-reflective number with an entrancing sound. In the beginning, a single violin wavers longingly as a vocalist hums between bars. Halfway through, the tempo picks up and a guitar strums along in a moment of musical epiphany.

Some tracks in the album feature a single instrument moving freely in a smooth, relaxed manner. It is apparent that Miles’ sound and style is influenced by well-known classical composers, like Mozart.

Other tracks, like “Potent,” combine a number of sounds, swinging more into Asian-inspired styles. Brisk, staccato notes played intensely create a heavy sense of tension until the end of the song.

Not every song is particularly memorable, but overall, Miles has produced an impressive instrumental display of composition and put a contemporary spin on classical music.