Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass

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Based in Nashville and a veteran of Jenny Lewis' touring band, Natalie Prass certainly has her share of Americana roots, something that's evident on her eponymous 2015 debut. It's a bit too easy to make too much of those Southern-fried roots, however, a move that would suggest the album is steeped in the humid reaches of the Delta and that Prass possesses a bit of a husky growl in her voice, neither of which is true. At times, Natalie Prass does indeed proceed at a slow, sultry crawl that suggests such earlier blue-eyed soul masterpieces as Dusty in Memphis, but Prass is a pretty, delicate singer whose exacting phrasing pushes her album toward the West Coast in a manner not dissimilar to Jenny Lewis. This, in turn, brings the record closer to the confines of Laurel Canyon of the '70s and sometimes even the epicenter of the Hollywood of the '60s, particularly when the record ends on "It Is You," a note of whimsy that's a tip of the hat to Harry Nilsson. All this means is that Prass -- with the assistance of Spacebomb head Matthew E. White, whose success with his own Big Inner in 2012 delayed the release of Natalie's record by nearly three years -- has created an appealingly classicist work that draws heavily from a singer/songwriter tradition instituted in the '70s (it even lasts a brisk 40 minutes and nine songs, just like an LP from 1971) but isn't weighed down by its heritage. Whenever the album floats upon its orchestrations or sighs along with its rich swaths of brass, there's a lightness to Natalie Prass, a lightness that also reflects in songs that are sweetly melancholic, not sad. So enveloping is the sound that it can sometimes be easy to overlook Prass' songs, which are as exquisitely crafted as her album's production. Her eye for telling romantic details and gift for gorgeous, lilting melodies mean this debut sinks its hooks in deep and soon seems to belong alongside the classics it so plainly resembles.

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