Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass | Album Review

Natalie Prass
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Artist: Natalie Prass
Genre: Rock
Label: Spacebomb

Heartbreak and heartache are music’s common currency. They’re emotions attached to records which arrive in a funk of blue and bring the listener tales of good-love-gone-bad or bad-love-gone-worse. Sometimes, the records are keepers because we’ve all experienced feelings like that and crave empathy. Other times, though, the records are quickly cast aside because the weeping grates. There’s a fine line between the two.

In the case of Natalie Prass, here’s an artist who will cast a long shadow. Cleveland-born and Virginia-reared, Prass made her bones as a Nashville singer-songwriter, working the Music City beat as well as playing in Jenny Lewis’s band. For her album, she went back to Virginia, hooked up with her old high-school jamming partner Matthew E White’s Spacebomb set-up and set to work.

The White connection is worth noting. His debut album, Big Inner, was an album with a certain brand of timeless rock-and-pop-and-soul-and-gospel-and-country, and Prass's tender, bittersweet, vulnerable confessions are hooked and hoisted with similar musical ropes.

But don’t take this to mean Prass is simply following in White’s slipstream. She has a swing and a sway to her work which is very much her own. Sure, there are flickers here of previous blues chroniclers like Dusty Springfield or Carole King, but these are clues rather than cues. Prass has a fascinating voice, one with room for tones of both disappointment and hope.

The songs are equally ear-catching, a brilliant hand of tunes which mine love's cruel ways for lines, melodies and harmonies which resonate. My Baby Don't Understand Me and Christy are wrapped in strings and muted brass which highlight how Prass's relationship is falling apart, while the vintage soul wrapping around Your Fool produces a lazy, hazy, woozy groove you're happy to dig again and again. Closing track It Is You, meanwhile, has a fetching sound all the way from the Disney songbook. Here's a calling-card, then, to a long and definitely intriguing innings.