Lana Nauphal’s debut album, Wildland, is an ode to self-discovery

May 30, 2024

Photo by Nina Rivera

Wild is not exactly the first word that students would use to describe Georgetown. More likely than not, it does not even crack the top 10 descriptors (ambitious, academic, and elitist are perhaps some of the terms that make up this hypothetical list). 

However, to Georgetown alumna Lana Nauphal (CAS ’19), the term “wild” defined life and love on campus. 

“I mean, like we all basically lived in a house together, maybe like two houses, and it was just chaotic. We painted on the walls and it was just like that kind of freewheeling Bohemia,” Nauphal said in an interview with the Voice. 

Nauphal’s debut album Wildland wields love as a tool for introspection. The young artist reminisces on the naive, enchanting, and heartbreaking romance that characterized her transition into adulthood. Through plucky guitars and warm melodies, Nauphal pays homage to carefree love and its ability to sprout personal growth.

Photo by Ada Chen

Nauphal’s introductory track, “Be It as It May,” subsumes the intimacy kindred to Americana, cementing Wildland as a foray into folk. Beginning with the slow hum of an acoustic guitar, Nauphal’s rich vocals and raw lyricism take center stage. With a voice that moves like molasses—unhurried and oh-so-rich—Nauphal’s melodies linger in the air and lull the listener into the hidden corners of her heart. Her lyricism cultivates this convivial feeling further. Singing “I’ve got people lined up / Waiting just for one shot / So what does she do that you think I never could?” as a rather matter-of-fact reflection, listeners reckon with feelings of self-inadequacy in love alongside Nauphal. Pulled into the darkroom of Nauphal’s memories, “Be It as It May” develops Nauphal’s whirlwind romance with thoughtful nostalgia and melancholic self-awareness.

The authenticity of “Be It as It May” continues throughout Wildland and is Nauphal’s greatest strength as a songwriter. From sprinkling flirty feelings of infatuation into “Colour Me Gold,” to channeling the emotional desperation wrought by first love into “Sure as the Score,” Nauphal not only imbues her romantic retelling with nuance, but also flaunts her lyrical range. 

Perhaps most emblematic of Nauphal’s lyrical power is her tendency towards introspection. If the first half of Wildlands follows a young Nauphal through her first trial with love, the latter half is reminiscent of a more mature, self-actualized Nauphal. Rather than attempt to bury this wild romance into the depths of her psyche, she muses on its concrete position in her life in “One is the Loneliest Dream,” singing, “And I came away with no love to my name / Still one is my favourite claim.” By highlighting the prominence of this experience with young love and novel friends now lost to the wind, Nauphal positions Wildland less as an archetypal breakup album, and more as an ode to growing older. 

“Him, his group of friends, and this experience were a hundred percent this sort of incredible moment that I’m so forever grateful it happened. For good and for bad, it went in many directions and we all had a lot of feelings about everything. We’re not all in touch anymore at all. But, all of them, I have such a soft spot in my heart for because my coming-of-age is entirely intertwined with these people,” Nauphal said. 

Nauphal masters thematic and musical niches alike in Wildland, creating a wonderfully cohesive album about finding yourself through projected love, all strung together by bright guitars and comforting, raspy vocals. Although Wildland is quite congruent, it borders on monotonous. Nauphal has certainly leaned into folk sound, drawing inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan, but there is little experimentation across the tracks. While they are certainly differentiated through emotion—the album’s track composition reads as a story of falling, hurting, and healing—there is little musical variation. All songs seem to follow a similar formula with a spunky guitar and a smooth-flowing vocal line. While Wildland is intimate and beautiful, evoking a strikingly intimate nature that pulls on the heartstrings, the album’s homogeneity dulls Nauphal’s artistic potential.

Photo by Nina Rivera

Regardless, to say that Nauphal does not bare her soul on Wildland is to grossly misrepresent the album. Nauphal’s fervent emotional ties to these songs invigorates the album, as she uses her vocal flexibility to her advantage. She allows her voice to dawdle on certain lyrics, causing them to reverberate through the air and lodge themselves in the ears of listeners, subtly commanding the attention of those with the pleasure to hear. At other times—like in “The Sweetest Thing”—Nauphal expertly maneuvers the lower and upper ends of her range. Her upper range floats above the clouds, parroting an awe-inspiring feeling of levity, while the darkness of her alto range grounds the listener in nostalgia; this sonic game of cat-and-mouse works beautifully for a song about the bittersweetness associated with young love. 

Though Nauphal dips back into her time at Georgetown with Wildland—in conversation, she reminisced on the songs she wrote in the White-Gravenor bathrooms during class and how songs “came to her” during the wintery isolation of finals season—Wildland is her final descent into her collegiate life. Hoping to fossilize her coming-of-age with this album, Nauphal is looking forward. In closing the book on her youth, Nauphal exudes a commendable wisdom in her musical debut. If her trek into adulthood is at all reminiscent of her artistry in Wildland, her future shines bright. 

Voice’s Choices:Something in the Rain”; “Colour Me Gold”; “One is the Loneliest Dream” 

Sofia Kemeny
Sofia (she/her) is a junior in the SFS studying Regional and Comparative Studies and Journalism. She likes writing pop culture commentary and yapping for hours on end. She dislikes when people don't laugh at her (objectively) hilarious jokes.

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