By Natalie Prass
Natalie Prass grew up in the Tidewater region in Virginia. She started her career as a keyboardist for Jenny Lewis. On January 27, 2015, Prass released her eponymous debut album on Columbia Records & Spacebomb Records. The album was recognized as one of the Best New Albums by Pitchfork. The album was produced by Matthew E. White and Trey Pollard at Spacebomb Records in Richmond, Virginia.
Prass, 28, writes a heartbreak album that reminds you why such albums are so brilliant and necessary in the first place. The break-up happens almost in real time. The chorus of track one, "My Baby Don't Understand Me", was written by Prass in tears after one particularly bad row. She later emailed it to her now-ex - who co-wrote many of these other songs - an act which pretty much solidified the end of the relationship. Strings weep along with her whilst horns hoist Prass's romantic non-contiguity to the level of a minor epic.
It has come to fruition that Spacebomb, where Prass recorded her debut album, have been sitting on this gem for over two years. It seems their time was otherwise taken up promoting another hit album from Matthew E White. Prass used this time wisely playing in Jenny Lewis's touring band and simultaneously making clothes for dogs.
The stifling horns, the groovy strings and southern sway of White's record recur on Prass's songs, which take their cues from old greats such as Carole King and Dusty Springfield whilst still managing to maintain the fresh sounding pain sounding in Prass's voice.
The nine songs of Natalie Prass' debut LP feature elaborate tapestries of full orchestration. What makes this album for me is her sophisticated ear for pop arrangements. This sets it apart with her gracefully authoritative, hyper-emotive personality brought out through a masterfully controlled and gloriously weird set of pipes.
Across these songs, Prass reveals several sides to herself with the same delicacy in her tone. One moment she's a bolting target in "Bird Of Prey," which offers the best-sounding first 12 seconds of any debut single you're likely to hear. The next, on "Violently," she's the predator: "I just want to know you violently," she sings, softly. "I've had enough of talking politely." Prass never stops embracing and defending the impulsiveness that carries this album, one over which she somehow maintains an astounding amount of control. She's heartbroken, maybe crazy and she knows it.