Nina Nesbitt named her third album Älskar right at the start of the creative process. It’s a word that has always been incredibly evocative for the Scottish singer-songwriter. Growing up in Edinburgh, she would often hear her mother use it, especially when she was speaking to Nesbitt’s Swedish grandmother. “Älskar is the Swedish word for love, and I knew I wanted to write about love in all its different forms,” Nesbitt tells Apple Music. “I wasn't just inspired by romantic love, but also family love, self-love, and the love between friends.” Such explorations of love also span the three generations of women in her family (“Dinner Table”), as well as reflections on unhealthy relationships (“Older Guys”), lost love, and grief (“When You Lose Someone,” the album's cinematic centerpiece). Musically, Älskar pivots between purposeful pop songs such as “Pressure Makes Diamonds”—on which Nesbitt confronts sexism and patriarchal pressures head-on—and stirring ballads (“Heirlooms,” ”Colours of You”). The latter, co-written with Adele collaborator Dan Wilson, offers a vivid snapshot of a happier kind of love: Nesbitt’s long-term relationship. Read on as the singer-songwriter guides us through her enthralling third album, one song at a time. “Gaol” “I've top-and-tailed the album with the words for ‘love’ in two languages I grew up with. It begins with ‘Gaol,’ which means ‘love’ in Scottish Gaelic, and ends with ‘Älskar,’ which is ‘love’ in Swedish. This album has so many personal stories, but I wanted fans to really take ownership of it, so I had this idea to open with a song where people are talking about love in their own language. I asked fans on Instagram and TikTok to send me voice notes, and I was sent hundreds to choose from. Hearing them here makes you realize how the words ‘I love you’ carry so much weight in any language.” “Teenage Chemistry” “I wrote this song about getting together with my boyfriend the first time around. I was 18 at the time, so it kind of encompasses all the feelings and experiences we were having back then: going out every night and just being very free before life became more serious. I really wanted this song to be a sonic representation of the very distinctive aesthetic of the TV show Skins.” “No Time (For My Life to Suck)” “This one's really funny because I wrote it before COVID and lockdowns, but after going through all that, I relate to the lyrics even more. I just wanted to write a song about cleansing any negative vibes. I feel like as I've got older, I've become less tolerant of drama and toxic situations. And I think I can be quite savage: My friends tell me, ‘You can't just cut people off,’ but if someone's not worth the drama, I think you need to move on from them. So really, this song is meant to be a mantra for living your best life.” “Pressure Makes Diamonds” "I've watched so many Dolly Parton documentaries and I'm really inspired by the way she writes fun, upbeat songs with an underlying message. This song began with a piano loop that's now a guitar loop: I just picked up a microphone and the song came out as a stream of consciousness. I didn't even know I felt that way about half the stuff that came out! I guess the underlying message is about the expectations and pressures that society puts on women, particularly as we get older. I was 25 when I wrote this song, so I was starting to feel those pressures: not just career stuff, but also people asking when I'm going to settle down and have kids. That's a lot to deal with all at once, so I hope it's helpful to have it in a song.” “Dinner Table” “This song is about me, my mum, and my grandma. Even though we grew up in different decades, we've experienced so many of the same things in terms of love, coming-of-age and career stuff. It's quite a niche concept for a song, but a really interesting one. I've been learning Swedish on Duolingo for the last couple of years, so I've actually been able to communicate with my grandmother more without having my mum as our translator. It's been fascinating finding out how similar we are even though she was born in World War II, which seems like an age away.” “When You Lose Someone” “There's some very specific storytelling on the album, but I wanted this song to feel more universal. I've never said exactly what inspired it, but I will say it's about grief and loss. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone dying; I think you can experience grief in so many different ways. It's something I've gone through over the last couple of years for the first time in my life. And it was just such a horrific feeling that I wanted to put it into a song so people could take whatever they want from it.” “I Should Be a Bird” “I wrote this song about being an empath. I'm a very sensitive person who absorbs other people's feelings, so if someone I care about is sad or going through something, I take it all on and get too involved. At times, I've even got really depressed after giving a lot of myself to other people. So this song is really about learning to set boundaries so I'm not there for my friends too much. When it all gets a bit heavy, I just need to be a bird and fly away.” “Colours of You” “I wrote this song with Dan Wilson, who's been on my bucket list for years, and another amazing songwriter called Nick Long. It's about my relationship with my boyfriend. Because we've been together for seven years, I know all his little quirks and so many different things remind me of him. It can be tasting a certain food, hearing a certain song, seeing a certain color. Everyone has quirks that you only find out about when you really get to know them; this song is about the way you kind of paint a picture of someone you love.” “Limited Edition” “This one is a bit of a wildcard. I think I wrote it about three and a half years ago, and originally it wasn't going to go on the album. But when I listened back to everything I'd recorded, I realized I needed one more upbeat track to break up the album's ballady bits. Lyrically, it touches on the subject of self-love, because as I've gotten older, I've found I give less of a fuck. I just care less about what people think—I am a bit of a freak and that's fine.” “Older Guys” “This isn’t about a specific relationship; I've just always liked older guys. And when I was younger, I guess I thought it was cool and exciting and rebellious to date them. But looking back on it now—now I'm the age those guys were when they were pursuing me—I think, ‘Oh my god, that's so weird.’ I was so naive about the world and how relationships work. When you're 17 or 18 or whatever, your brain isn't properly formed yet. And if I knew then what I know now, I would never have been attracted to those guys. But this isn't an experience that's personal to me. It's happened to a lot of my friends, so I think I'm talking about something pretty important here.” “Heirlooms” “I heard a Brandi Carlile song called ‘The Mother’ where she sings about being a mum and a musician, and I was so inspired that I wanted to write my own version. Obviously I'm not a mother, but it kind of plays on my mind—like, how would I do that with my job? I wrote this song over Zoom with a Scottish songwriter called David Gibson who's just had a kid. We got chatting about only wanting to pass down good things to our kids, not our negative traits, which is obviously pretty unrealistic. And the song pretty much flowed from there.” “Älskar” “I listen to a lot of Sigur Rós, and I love how their songs really sound like the cold weather of the Nordic regions. I wrote this song in Sweden, and I wanted it to sound like Sweden in the winter, but in a really cinematic way. I started writing it in my hotel room on the piano: I had some of the drums, melody, and lyrics down, then I brought it to the studio to finish it off. One of the producers plays the trumpet, so we added that to the track, which is a fun touch. I instantly knew I wanted it to be the closing track. It’s just the perfect way to wrap this record up.”

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