Natalie Prass

The Future And The Past

Prass steps into a new style, with added heartbreak and extra groooove

“My whole life I’ve been compared to Karen Carpenter, pretty much on looks alone,” Natalie Prass said at a recent London gig. Towards the end of this album, she takes that comparison and turns it on its head. “Tell me why do birds / Do they suddenly disappear / Instead of singing here,” she sings, aiming directly at The Carpenters’ biggest hit. “Oh, what are we to do? / We can’t believe it’s true / We’re so far from you.” Words originally intended for an ex-lover become a way of playing with this role she’s been assigned; it feels like a kind of manifesto.

Breakups have been an inspiration for Prass since the beginning, and this album was no different, but this time there’s the extra heartache of seeing Donald Trump elected president of her home country. “I was devastated," she’s said. “It made me question what it means to be a woman in America, whether any of the things I thought were getting better were actually improving, who I am and what I believe in.” Even reading the news turns into a heartbreaking activity, as she sings on opener ‘Oh My’, with slapped bass, sharp synths and filtered backing vocals creating an alluring funk base for the singer’s soft, forlorn voice.

But if she’s down, she’s not out: “Ain’t nobody can take this from our hands,” she sings on the closing track. “Ain’t nobody here is givin’ it up.” Prass has embraced a new sound full of funk and groove, inspired by the last decades of the 20th century, from R&B to dance music, from ‘Short Court Style’ to ‘The Fire’ to the standout here, ‘Sisters’. Prass’ delicate vocals over a jazzy grand piano, pave the way for a gospel choir in the chorus. Her talent for writing great ballads à la Dusty Springfield is still evident, too, on ‘Lost’ and, of course, ‘Far From You’ – completing the sonic palette of a magnificent pop album.

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