[Review] Nehedar – Escaping Zion

Snappy, searing, and a provider of apt commentary on the perceived doomsday looming on the horizon, Nehedar’s Escaping Zion is a unique addition to the soul-pop New York scene. Nehedar (Nee Emilia Cataldo) having experienced several significant personal transformations and revelations heading into the album is somewhat jaded by the state of art within our current sociopolitical climate and uses the new album to speak her voice, having personally ascended within her life. Overall, Escaping Zion is both a physical and mental departure, watching the toxicity of the world play out from a higher plane.

Cataldo makes no bones about her feeling on the modern state of the world – take “Mod Civ,” a bouncy yet politically charged track that eviscerates the current state of affairs within the country. Cataldo sings, “I don’t want to miss the fall of modern civilization/but we’re not really sure if this life or a good simulation,” entirely breaking apart any façade that may have laid behind her true political agenda.

Vocally, Escaping Zion finds Cataldo ranging from Laura Nyro to later Kate Bush, visiting planes of the stratosphere as well as Topanga Canyon Valley vibes. The track “Thoughts and Prayers” is perhaps the strongest and most resilient of her vocals, though there is not necessarily a weak spot on the record in this regard. It takes a special type of song crafting to pit relatively poppy music against lyrics that don’t pull any punches without coming off as musical virtue signaling. In a an exciting and perhaps surprisingly long line of politically charged releases from New York, Escaping Zion shows a path in which form and message can comfortably coexist.

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