Most recently known for her work with Jenny Lewis, Natalie Prass has released her debut album, which is a the equivalent of a heartbroken Stax/Motown album of the 60’s and 70’s, with lush orchestral music topped off with Prass’ unique voice and lovelorn lyrics on relationships gone wrong.
The album begins with the break-up song “My Baby Don’t Understand Me,” which is about the ending of a long-term relationship. Like the rest of the album, this song showcases Prass’ unique vocals, which seem almost child-like at times, but are still able to convey highly emotional lyrics. The song threatens to become overblown with brass and string sections, but remains in the boundaries of good taste, and is one of the highlights of the album.
The song that follows, “Bird of Prey,” almost slight in comparison with its piano motif, but Prass’ vocals and the more muted arrangement work very well. “Why Don’t You Believe In Me’ is an epic weepie which wouldn’t sound out of place in an album recorded at Muscle Shoals in the 1970s. Elements of the past are everywhere, but it is to the credit of producers Matthew White and Trey Pollard (and Prass) that the album is able to include influences from the likes of Dusty Springfield and Diana Ross without sounding like a mere throwback.
The album’s closer, “It Is You,” is an audacious-sounding track that could fit nicely into a romantic musical from the 1950. The lush orchestration gives the song a retro feel and it ends the album on a high note.
This record was clearly intended as a showcase for both the arrangements of producers White and Pollard and for Prass’ voice. It succeeds in its goal of holding your attention for the entire album, and this record will no doubt feature highly on those end of year lists which right now seem so far away.
Natalie Prass is out now.