Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez first developed a cult following with the release of her arty electronic debut Good Evening. While the recognition was justified, her vintage synth compositions ultimately felt limited, like they’d been made in someone’s bedroom. Which they probably were.
Despite those lo-fi beginnings, Nite Jewel’s sophomore album shows Gonzalez maturing to a place of sophisticated brilliance. Second of Love‘s diverse amalgamation of funk, folk, Italo disco and pop, as well as its crystalline production, indicates ambitions far beyond a simple fringe fan base. Perhaps she’s become motivated to be the soundtrack for spas, handbag boutiques or late night lounges. Or maybe her lo-fi back catalog was only the result of financial limitations.
Whatever the reason, a song like “She’s Always Watching” imagines the Dirty Projectors as fronted by a young Madonna while “Mind & Eyes” has a laid-back ease that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sade record. Standout track “In the Dark” recalls the sultry fragility of Everything But the Girl – which is admirable, considering that Nite Jewel was once admired for her avant-pop leanings. But jewels, particularly of the Nite variety, get polished. When that happens, they truly shine.