Laramie’s “Nicotine” Leaves Listeners Choked Up

Originally published by Two Story Melody

I listened to ‘Nicotine’ for the first time in a bustling coffee shop so full of people I could barely hear myself think.

With the volume turned up way too loud in an attempt to drown out the people around me, Laramie Renae’s voice pierced through the noise with a firm sweetness. Laramie has the kind of sound you want to be friends with, one that makes you feel heard and understood. In ‘Nicotine’ the indie group combines pure vocals with an edge that carries an air similar to Lana Del Ray.

With a strong alternative, indie melody, this song will appeal to listeners across genres. At first I thought ‘Nicotine’ would be a traditional soft pop ballad – girl is heartbroken and sings about it again. I was mistaken. The combination of percussion, strings, tight harmonies and production technique creates a beautiful, harrowing anthem.

‘Nicotine’ builds, rumbles low and echoes inside you long after the song ends.

“Drowning down
Breaking up
I don’t know what your name was

“I don’t know what your name was”? It sounds so intimate and personal and then we find out she doesn’t even know the person. At first listen, this seems a bit ridiculous, but let’s dive a little deeper:

“And I, oh you take your time
And I, oh you take your time

Does she simply want to be introduced? Perhaps.. but when we hear the next line we’re left confused once again:

“Heaven help the one I love

Was she hurt so badly by someone she loved that she feels like she doesn’t know them anymore? Or are we introduced to a third character? Did she betray the one she loved in a moment of weakness with another? Or is this an expression of concern for the future?

I would lean toward the latter theory. There is clearly a tragedy that has left the subject of the song in confusion and desperation – an interesting message considering it is delivered so powerfully and confidently.

And let’s not forget this phrase meant to sting:

“Piece by peace
It’s the least
That you couldn’t do for me

I can’t help but stop in my tracks at the cleverness of this phrase. ‘Piece by peace.’ You would never catch this unless you intentionally sought out the lyrics.

It indicates that she is slowly piecing herself back together in the wake of a tragedy where she was left with nothing.

In this light we gain a better understanding of this stanza:

“And I, oh you take your time
And I, oh you take your time

Almost stumbling over her words, Renae asks the subject of her musings to take it slow, asking that “Heaven help the one I love” possibly because of the emotional baggage that she brings into this new experience. When we’re hurt, we are not the only ones affected. Ripple effects take their toll on everyone close to us.

So what part does nicotine play? It’s a scramble for stability. Cigarette in hand, trying to gather her thoughts, Renae finds herself choking on what she thought would calm her shattered nerves.

I can’t say for sure what this song is about. But that’s the beauty of music. A song can mean a world of different things to each listener. Whether you’ve been hurt by a loved one or a stranger, whether you’re begging for a second chance or praying for healing, you can make ‘Nicotine’ your anthem.

I think we can all find a reason to cry out, “Heaven help the one I love.”

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