Concert review: Natalie Prass in Copenhagen // From Sass to Prass

Archive, Folk, Jazz, News, Pop, Singer/Songwriter

August 19, 2015

Natalie Prass was on tour with Ryan Adams as his opening act earlier this year. Unfortunately, an airline strike from SAS prevented her from joining him in Copenhagen, but this did not stop Ryan from giving the audience the experience of her music. He came out on stage in a dress and tights, and became his own opening act and alter ego: Natalie Sass.

Five months later, Natalie and her band finally took the stage at Vega. They opened the ball with ‘Your Fool’ followed by ‘Never Over You’. As a live music fan, you worry about whether or not the artist can take their studio recordings and execute them live on stage. However, with her reputation as a live act that has been spreading like wildfire, it was never anyone’s worry. The strings and horns that heavily shaped her album was not present on stage. With two guitars, a bass and a drum set, she turned the delicate timeless songs into a groovy rock show. Next on the agenda was the old song ‘Sand Dunes’, which started to loosen up a crowd who possibly had expected a quiet evening with no dancing. The tempo was taken down a notch by the melancholic ‘Christy’.

There are no compromises with Natalie. The tenderness she emits does not exclude the muscle and control in her performance and proves you do not have to leave behind the brittleness in exchange for strength. With a fast and upbeat cover of ‘Sound of Silence’ she explained “they only rehearsed it once at soundcheck”, we were invited into their band practice with animated energy and smiles all around.

She continued her journey in mesmerizing the crowd with her single ‘Birds of Prey’ and another intimate cover of Janet Jackson’s ‘Any Time Any Place’. She mentioned the Ryan Adams in drag episode and played her own version of ‘Winding Wheel’, with great appreciation from the audience.

From the rollercoaster ride of a new song called ‘Jass’ (“it’s spelled with the z’s backwards”), which left quite a few people puzzled in terms of what genre that song fell in under, the song ‘Violently’ well, violently pulled at our heartstrings, and the theme continued on through ‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’.

An unexpected highlight was the spoken word ‘Reprise’ that reached deep. The women beside me whispered to her significant other, “Oh my God, do you have tears in your eyes?” which speaks for itself. Whatever comes out of Natalie’s mouth, she means it, and there are no irony or excuses, which is in contrast to her laidback and chatty atmosphere in between the songs.

Natalie Prass is a mysteriously, tall, dark elf queen from something out of Lord Of The Rings, who with a smile and a riff sweeps in and pulls the rug from under your feet — which of course, you do not even realise until she points at the floor. She has got a touch of the old soulful days with a timeless honesty, and with a final encore of a powerful rendition of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ the audience didn’t even look down once.

The opening act was the local band The Orange Grove, who most of all sounded like they would fit right in cruising down Malibu beach to Trestles in the 70s California, with a couple of early Al Merrick-surfboards tied to the roof of a van. Unashamed inspired by the likes of Grateful Dead, they won the crowd over song by song. The band in the current constellation has only been together for a little over a year, but there was undoubtedly much experience between them displayed in their performance. They released their debut album Stare Into The sun earlier this year, you can watch the video to ‘California Night’ here.

Your Fool
Never Over You
Sand Dunes
Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Bird of Prey
Any time Any Place (Janet Jackson Cover)
Winding Wheel (Ryan Adams cover)
My Baby Don’t Understand Me
Why Don’t You Believe In Me

You Keep Me Hangin’ On (The Supremes cover)

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Track Review: Bunched Up Letters // The King’s Parade

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Jazz, Pop

August 8, 2015

With their debut single ‘Bunched Up Letters’, The King’s Parade are becoming a fast favourite of mine. Having scored a residency at the incredible Ronnie Scott’s as well as performing at The Great Escape, Bestival and Reeperbhan Festival and on their own UK tour, frontman Olly Corpe and his fellow band members are clearly determined, and deservedly so, to make us all well aware of their soaring talent. The London-based four piece combine accomplished songwriting and catchy, chilled melodies with a jazzy, blues undertone in their first release, a singular track that will be making its way into many a music collection after just one listen.

Corpe’s vocals are toffee-smooth, accentuated beautifully by precise harmonies. Echoes of Hozier and George Ezra peep through, but his voice is most certainly all his own. The musical and instrumental arrangement is boisterous but wonderfully, melodically slick, and strikingly unique. The King’s Parade have a perfectly crafted track in ‘Bunched Up Letters’; each element locks in to the next with perfect subtlety, and something unforgettable is formed.

Article by Amie Bailey

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Album Review: Kamasi Washington // The Epic

Archive, Editors Choice, Emerging Artists, Jazz

July 1, 2015

Jazz is an interesting genre. It’s lack of accessibility means that, although it’s musicians have always been highly regarded, it has never had much of a grasp on the mainstream. Unfortunately this means that even talented artists remain largely unheard by the masses. But once in a while the public will recognise a truly great talent; whether it be in the form of Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charles Mingus.

And so now in 2015, out of the mystic shadows of the realms of Jazz comes Kamasi Washington. Here is an artist so original, so exciting and so beautifully strange in his approach to music that his talent could scarcely be unrecognized for long. Washington, a tenor saxophonist, has been known as a contributing musician for a number of acts in recent years including Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock and even Kendrick Lamar. But it was this year’s breakthrough album ‘The Epic’ that has garnered him some well deserved attention.

At its core, this album is Jazz. But is also so much more. His band consists of trumpet, trombone, bass, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, piano, and two – yes- two drummers. Together they journey into uncharted sonic territory, pushing the boundaries of what contemporary music can be. The result? An almost extra-terrestrial sound; impassioned and atmospheric. The haunting backing vocal tracks found on songs like the opening ‘Change Of The Guard’ sound as though they’ve been plucked from the soundtrack of a 70s science-fiction film.

Although the album can be described as a well-balanced whole, the tracks themselves range quite drastically. Sometimes fierce and urgent, like ‘The Magnificent 7’; sometimes slow and soft like the dreamy ‘Seven prayers’. Other tracks aim to incorporate different genres altogether such as ‘Re-Run Home’ which begins with a Funk driven groove. It is here that his use of two drummers really comes alive as they become caught in the throws of frantic games of cat and mouse. You can also find elements of Soul, like in the easy-going ‘Cherokee’ which is one of only a handful that utilizes vocals as a major part of the song.

‘The Epic’ could not be more aptly named. It is a true assault on every one of your unsuspecting senses. Clocking in at a little under three hours, this behemoth is split into three volumes; ‘The Plan’, ‘The Glorious Tale’, and ‘The Historic Reception’. As an artistic project it is close to flawless; at some points smooth and sensual, at others, erratic and abrasive. This album gives the listener everything and is not a venture to be taken lightly. So if it’s an experience you’re after, take three hours from your life, put on a selection of great music and witness a journey like no other.

By Edward Acheson

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