Bird of Prey
I first heard “Bird of Prey” from Natalie Prass (self-titled album) playing in a White Stuff store and used Shazam (a free smartphone app) to identify it on my phone. It is a crazy catchy sound that I couldn’t get out of my head the rest of that day. As soon as I got back home I ordered the record (LP).
This album, which Natalie began writing in 2009, is beautifully produced by Matthew E. White and Trey Pollard, with superb musicianship, infectious (sometimes wonderfully retro) melodies and arrangements, and above all Natalie’s wonderful vocals and highly original, insightful lyrics.
There’s more than enough style variation between tracks to hold the listener’s interest throughout, without being allowed to feel that this is anything less than a “proper album,” with thought given to running order and flow. Each time I’ve put the album on the platter, I’ve played it right through – both sides. It just works.
The lyrical themes of the nine tracks are bitter-sweet and relationship-focused, but Prass’s biggest problem is her utterly charming voice and intimate style; she has the kind of voice that will generate crushes, so you may find it hard to believe she’s ever been hurt by anyone, ever, and, if she has, what a loser they must have been! But the songs also manage to convey honesty in spades, so that the impression is of songs which are autobiographical in origin. That aspect reminds me of the Queen of Insight, Joni Mitchell, and who is to say that Natalie Prass might not enjoy similar longevity and recognition? On the basis of this self-titled album, I will certainly be ordering a first pressing of the follow-up. I only hope I won’t have to wait too long.
As I am reviewing the vinyl version, my copy is an acoustically clean, good quality pressing. Run-in/out and inter-track noise is non-existent. Dynamics are generally good, especially considering the range of Natalie’s vocals and her frequent ‘close-to-the-microphone’ breathiness. It’s nicely presented, though not ostentatious, in a single (not gatefold) glossy outer sleeve. Lyrics are included, as is a download voucher to install the album on a computer, if that’s your thing (it’s not mine – I’m too much of a vinyl fan for that).
An intimate and highly original first album, six years in the making, beautifully performed, produced, engineered and neatly packaged. I’ll buy her next album for sure. I hope it will be out soon, because I’m keen to see where Natalie Prass is heading next.
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For more on Natalie Prass: Wikipedia
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