Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass review – spellbinding country-soul

Matthew E White’s album Big Inner may have been a critical smash in 2013, but its success looked like it might come at a cost for Natalie Prass. This self-titled debut was recorded in 2012 yet remained on the back burner while White’s Spacebomb label was forced to focus on promoting his own record. With the Virginia label – which also operates as a studio with house band – now giving Prass their full backing, however, she may concede that it was worth waiting: the 28-year-old’s country-soul songs are frequently spellbinding, but each one is given a further lift by the Spacebomb team’s arrangements. Your Fool is propelled by bursts of Muscle Shoals brass, whereas the harps on infidelity tale Christy give it a grandeur worthy of Scott Walker. So sweet are the strings on the standout Violently that it takes time to notice that Prass’s pure soul voice is singing about heartache in brutal terms: “Break my arms, ’cos they want to hold you.” The touchstones here, such as Dusty in Memphis, are all records that revel in a particular kind of musicality, yet this is a record that never feels retro, just timeless.

The playlist: Americana – a tour of Texas


Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth review – hard-hitting country soul

Michael Hann

14, Apr, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Natalie Prass review – pristine heartbreak tales
The Nashville singer-songwriter proved her mettle as a great country balladeer – and plenty of other things besides, writes Stevie Chick

Stevie Chick

29, Jan, 2015 @11:33 AM

Article image
Matthew E White: Big Inner – review

Pop doesn't spring too many surprises these days, but Matthew E White's debut feels like a genuine revelation, says Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

17, Jan, 2013 @3:30 PM

Article image
Matthew E White: Fresh Blood review – a delicious second helping
It lacks the impact and otherness of his 2012 debut, but Matthew E White’s follow-up is still a delight

Michael Hann

05, Mar, 2015 @10:30 PM

Article image
Domino bares its soul with Julia Holter and Matthew E White

Laura Snapes: One label is showing that being indie is about more than chasing guitar boys in tight trousers – art and devotion are the way to go

Laura Snapes

10, Jan, 2013 @2:02 PM

Matthew E White – review

White ditches the eerie horns and strings to bring his soul songs alive in an urgent, sweltering evening of country honk, writes Stevie Chick

Stevie Chick

24, Jan, 2013 @5:46 PM

Article image
Natalie Prass: The Future and the Past review – musical magpie channels Karen and Janet
The singer from the Spacebomb collective scrapped two albums on the way to this brilliant final version, where old styles – soul, R&B, tropicalia – never feel retro

Alexis Petridis

31, May, 2018 @11:00 AM

Phantom Limb: The Pines – review
A Bristol band in thrall to the sounds of country-soul Americana whip up a pleasing take on a particular sound, but fail to really make it their own, writes Michael Hann

Michael Hann

09, Feb, 2012 @10:45 PM

Article image
Valerie June: The Order of Time review – glorious, ethereal, sublime

Dave Simpson

26, Jan, 2017 @9:45 PM

Article image
Five albums to try this week: Matthew E White, Pops Staples and more
Stream the best new music out this week, from Will Butler to Young Guv

Tshepo Mokoena

09, Mar, 2015 @10:32 AM