And the Sky Caught Fire
Star Catcher Music
An Austin songwriter (originally from Colorado) gifted with sly charm that rolls off her voice and her pen with equal deftness, Nichole Wagner wields subtlety like some artists wield volume or shock value. Her advantage lies in just how much better her gifts are likely to age. Building on the stripped-down promise of her 2017 EP, Plotting the Constellations, 2018’s full-length, full-band approach offsets her sweetly keening vocals with some electric-guitar edge and smartly complementary keyboard work. The engaging bounce of “Let Me Know,” the winsome wordplay of “Rules of Baseball,” and the slow-burn folk of “Yellow Butterfly” are among the brightest spots on a record rich with them. — MIKE ETHAN MESSICK