Happy hours get a melodic twist over the coming week at One Colorado. Live concert sets in the courtyard will feature poetic troubadour Tom Freund (Sunday), pop trio Neon West (Monday), socially conscious vocalist Malynda Hale (next Thursday), indie-pop songwriter Holland Greco (next Friday) — and, on Wednesday, soul-pop chameleon Nina Storey, who promises “quite a bit of new material,” performed solo or in a duo setup.
Check out Storey’s videos and Instagram feed, or listen to the acoustic folk-pop of her 2007 album “So Many Ways From Me to You” against the sleek retro pop and soul flavor of 2013’s “Think Twice,” and it’s clear she likes to adopt varying characters and concepts from project to project. “I love being playful, in the photographic space as well as the musical space,” she acknowledges. “I have music that’s very cinematic and theatrical, stuff that is hardcore techno, and some that is R&B. Whatever the music is, I want to serve it and be immersed in that — visually too.”
The Colorado native has been heard singing in assorted commercials and TV shows, and around town with some folk, funk, and rock side projects. She’s released at least half a dozen albums since her 1993 debut, “Guilt and Honey,” and has been recording several tracks she plans to release as singles before compiling them in an EP. The first, due next month, is “Stronger,” a hooky soul ballad she’s been polishing at live shows for a few years. She recently submitted it to NPR’s Tiny Desk contest.
Storey also writes a blog (strangelyoptimistic.com) of “comedic essays” about day-to-day “stuff” like aggressive freezer doors and how distanced online connections can make us feel. What started as an “existential crisis” triggered by several bad first dates and some questionable gigs has morphed into another enjoyable creative outlet, which she’s trying to parlay into more substantial screenwriting and acting work.
“It’s an interesting avenue that has opened me up in different vulnerable ways. I think as human beings we need a tangible connection to things,” she says, referring to a post about social media. “We have this remarkable capacity to think in intangible terms, but as human beings we really need a physical connection to things to be planted in reality.”
For Storey, that connection occurs onstage. At the end of the day he identifies as a singer, with the emotionality of an R&B balladeer and a jazz chanteuse’s clear, centered tone.
“It’s a typically very comfortable space for me and I enjoy it immensely, so I feel very connected — it’s that physical connection with other human beings. There’s an energetic reciprocity that happens. So that is a lovely and empowering and vulnerable and energetic space. My storytelling is this other side of me; a little snarkier, goofier. For better or worse, I’m just exploring different ways of expressing myself.”
Nina Storey performs in One Colorado Courtyard, 41 Hugus Alley, Old Pasadena, 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 1; free admission. Info: (626) 564-1066. ninastorey.com, onecolorado.com