In today’s world of limitless studio polish, the appearance of true artists seems
increasingly rare. Every week, another reality star releases a carefully produced
music that shows nothing other than the producer’s polished Auto-Tune techniques
and the art department’s Photoshopping prowess. A songwriter’s catchy tracks are
too often rendered lifeless by a novice’s voice that is equal parts robot and human.
However, Neraida, a band formed around Marika Papazoglou, a singer/songwriter
from Athens, Greece, is a remarkable artist in every sense of the word.
The name Neraida is derived from the Greek word Νεράϊδα, which means “fairy.”
Much of Neraida’s songs are based on fairytales. Similarly, their ornate music has an
ethereal, otherworldly quality happily nested between rock and pop. Her debut
album, Outside the Box, opens with the self-titled track whispering into existence
over a beautiful bed of exotic percussion and cascading guitars bathed in delay.
When Neraida opens with the line, “One day, I will walk, I will walk away,” the
singer’s calmly confident voice immediately seduces the listener’s ear. She gently
sings of her discontent and apprehension as the music swirls around the imagination
like Alice preparing to cross through the Looking Glass. The chorus opens with
Neraida’s voice soaring over a powerful piano punctuated by a steadfast drum
pattern. The artistic effect is a stirring combination drawing from elements as
diverse as Coldplay and Sarah McLachlan.
Like any fairytale, there are moments of elegant beauty and haunting reflection.
Ranging from the subtly brooding lament of “This Butterfly” to the celebratory
majesty of “Back To You,” Outside the Box spins an elegant adventure. The album
opens with a captivating percussive motif until Neraida’s resonant alto beckons the
listener’s ear with a haunting Siren song. The song gently slithers under the
melancholy sentiments until the band explodes into a triumphant splendor of the
chorus. The beat pummels with resolute determination and subtle resolve as
Neraida’s voice soars in a captivating way, reminiscent of Sarah McLauchlin at the
apex of her vocal prowess. Like a prizefighter, she dances around the canvas
landing jabs and dodging punches, singing, “I want to feel the sun on my skin.”
This Butterfly” whispers into existence over a haunting piano passage and bed of
ethereal guitars. Throughout the first verse, Neraida poses a series of rhetorical
questions, which she soon answers with understated determination. Starting with the
second verse, the drums punctuate a driving gritty bass line as though reinforcing
Neraida’s growing power. The bridge briefly transforms the listener to an otherworldly
domain before crashing into a minimal piano passage serenely supporting the singer’s
“Back To You” plays off a bouncy piano pattern, shimmering guitars, and a celebratory
shuffle that explodes into an uplifting chorus of beauty. The song radiates with
optimism, but there is an understated soulfulness that distinctly removes it from that
saccharine pap of today’s music. When Neraida repeatedly sings, “walked away” and
“let you go,” the listener cannot help but relate to the singer’s celebratory longing.
Unlike most songs that reference Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “Down the
Rabbit Hole,” is a plaintive look at crossing into the unknown. It resonates with quiet
resolve and realistic excitement about the possibilities that lay ahead. As the minor
chords crash like waves under her bluesy melodies, Neraida beautifully encapsulates
the splendorous mystery of exploration. Throughout the closing musical passage, the
guitar spins dramatic webs into explosion.
Avoiding the never-ending carousel of interchangeable pop stars flogging one single
before disappearing into the unknown, Neraida’s Outside The Box harkens back to the
halcyon days of accomplished artists delivering expertly-crafted album-oriented music.
Neraida is a world class artist who can stand alongside Sarah McLachlan, Enya, and
Neraida’s lead singer and frontwoman Marika Papazoglou spends her days overlooking
the Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean from her home on the coast line of Attica, or
roaming the streets of Los Angeles.