Something of a paradoxical release from Nia Nicholls with "If You Want A Sign" as it sees her most expansive recording matched to her most narrow specific lyric yet. It weighs in at just over 6 minutes, if you seek out the non radio edit version, which is longer than "Bohemian Rhapsody" and similar to Mr Mercury's masterpiece it seems to fly by in half the time, and breaks down nicely into distinct sections.
Musically nothing has been spared, with swathes of strings, bold upfront piano, even a big ballad guitar solo, all of which has been carefully mapped out with a surgical degree of precision. Production values all round are high, Nia's growing fascination with supplying backing vocals is evident and is captured perfectly giving the song that extra level of depth and richness.
The subject matter of "If You Want A Sign" is very specific, it is very much a personal message, just wrapped up in a pop song and so initially it does feel a little like eavesdropping in on someone else's conversation.
The first verse opens to Nia explaining all of the positives she would bring to a relationship
"If you want a girl who treats you right - if you want trust not a fight
If you want a lover and a best friend in one
Well look no further let's see what we've become"
The chorus is Nia pretty much laying it on the line
"Don't play dumb with me darling - you know that I loved you
Since I met you three years ago
Don't act so naive honey - you know those songs I wrote, were all for you
How could you not know?"
It ends with Nia all but issuing a "come and get me" plea!
Nia does later confess to the pain of her situation and accepts that things might not work out in the way she hopes.
"Maybe you feel the same or maybe you don't
"But it's a paralysing ache, knowing I'll never know"
Whatever the outcome it is something of a tour de force and may give Nia the freedom to take her songwriting in hitherto unexplored directions.