Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass

Written by: TL on 19/03/2015 17:38:11

Despite being intended as support for Ryan Adams at his recent Copenhagen show, Nashville songwriter Natalie Prass had to have a stand-in on the evening. And frankly, her relevance for you as a reader is debatable, considering that her eponymous debut album is firmly placed in alt-country genre wise. She is relevant for you as a human being though, because already in the opener of the album, "My Baby Don't Understand Me", we have the best song released so far in 2015 and it's not close. With measured notes from her delicate voice, Prass establishes a compelling narrative of slow heartbreak, set amidst an arrangements of wind instruments that's so good it's practically unheard of on a 'mere recording of popular music'.

"My Baby Don't Understand Me" grows from measured singing and harmonies from brass and woodwind instruments, to elaborately placed contributions from strings, piano and percussion, driving the momentum ahead with perfect suspense and delivering excellent vocal hooks in both the chorus and the bridge. It is such a rare thing as a perfect song, sitting right there on the record's doorstep, welcoming you into Prass' warm, romantic universe, where guitar and bass have roles to play, but where the vocals, wind instruments and keys are primarily in the lead, with their presence divided roughly by that order. Prass' voice has been likened to that of a Disney princess, and to country legend Dolly Parton, and not without justification, as her delicate sliding in and out of falsetto sounds exquisite, and in combination with the masterful arrangements the listener is in for an unusually seductive level of sheer euphony.

Roughly half of the album's nine tracks are arguably a bit more relaxed and poppy than the dramatic opening track, though that doesn't detract substantially from the basic sense of quality that flows seamlessly through songs like "Bird Of Prey" and "Your Fool". A song like the yearning "Violently" has an extra level of gravity to it though, where Prass is truly mesmerising and relatable as a storyteller. On the flipside, "Reprise" is a curious inclusion, redoing "Your Fool" in an All Saints-like, spoken word style, yet functions as rousing change of pace before the closer "It Is You", which playfully evokes an almost "Sound Of Music"-like expression before sending the listener off.

So then, rock or not rock, you should listen to Natalie Prass, if for no other reason then because the compositions she has put on record in collaboration with producer Matthew E. White, are straight up educational in showing off a deftness and a carefulness that you will have to look far and wide to find an equal to, pretty much regardless of your genre of choice. The Copenhagen audience may have enjoyed a very special substitute performance when Ryan Adams played Prass' songs in her stead, but after listening to "Natalie Prass" the album, it's hard to not still have some regrets that we did not get to see her in person.


Download: My Baby Don't Understand Me, It Is You, Violently
For The Fans Of: The Staves, The Civil Wars, First Aid Kit, My Brightest Diamond

Release date 27.01.2015
Spacebomb Records / Startime International / Caroline International

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