Nina Mone’s latest single, “Broken Clock” is of course a tale of wasted time, but also of wasted love. The young songstress is on the surface, a beaming and effervescent personality. Therefore, it’s not hard to imagine why someone with a magnanimous spirit and an equally kind heart, would be victimized. Nina takes it in stride and allows her music to do the talking in the end. It’s not entirely clear if this song comes from firsthand experience, but that is generally the case to some extent.
Nina Mone tackles the subject of a breakup from an extremely involved perspective. Because the concept is such a common theme in songs, we sometimes become desensitized to the emotional trauma they incite. You get the feeling that Nina is speaking for any woman who has ever given herself entirely to a relationship, only to see it destruct. The detailed manner in which Mone recounts her ordeal makes it much more visceral for the listener. Her emotional performance is contained, yet there is an explosiveness that seems to be boil underneath.
You could call “Broken Clock,” an R&B song, but that may be simplifying it a bit. There are jazz and lounge elements to the track that give it a more sophisticated resonance. Much if not all of the song’s identity is formed and defined by Mone herself. She has a charismatic and powerful presence, even through the speakers. Her confidence is undeniable but is respectfully undercut by her humility.
The music video for “Broken Clock,” gives you the true Nina Mone experience. We see Nina on a plane, presumably on her way to a new life, following her breakup. We then see her on an antique, French-style rotary phone. We are to assume that she is on the phone with her ex, refusing to fall for their apologies this time. There are a few different scenes, all of them featuring Mone, and all of them set on a plane. We see her near the plane door at one point, where she delivers the song with an added dose of passion. This is where we are able to see her physical charisma, and get an idea of what it’s like to see her perform. The video is highly recommended, as it contextualizes the piece, albeit in a slightly offbeat way.
When Nina makes references to growing close to her lover’s children and mother it cuts deep. These are the things that go along with heartbreak that we don’t often discuss, and credit to Mone for being so candid. Her pain sounds deep on “Broken Clock,” but her resolve sounds even stronger. There is a positive message contained within this piece, of creating and honoring your boundaries. It’s important to establish and cultivate positive relationships, but it’s equally necessary to walk away from toxic ones. It’s for the sake of both parties that we realize that we can’t turn back the clock, but we can get a new one altogether.