The Future and the Past – Natalie Prass
Raised in Richmond, Virginia, singer/songwriter Natalie Prass began her career in her adopted home of Nashville, where she spent a number of years co-writing and backing up other artists before heading out on her own in 2009. With her delicate songbird voice and sophisticated sense of songcraft, she offers a striking sound that features elements of Dusty Springfield’s blue-eyed soul and Harry Nilsson’s clever pop orchestrations, all filtered into her own uniquely understated style.
A pair of self-released EPs (2009’s Small & Sweet and 2011’s Sense of Transcendence) preceded her debut album, which was recorded in 2012 but not released until 2015. Returning to Richmond, she hooked up with artist/producer and old high-school friend Matthew E. White, whose decidedly retro label Spacebomb Records provides a full-service staff of musicians and arrangers for each of their projects. Working alongside White and arranger Trey Pollard, Prass and the Spacebomb team crafted her elegant, horn and string-heavy debut at a studio in Burlington, Vermont in 2012.
The finished album was temporarily shelved while the label promoted several already scheduled releases. While waiting for its eventual release, Prass joined Jenny Lewis’ band for a series of tours and continued writing new solo material. The years spent on the shelf only bolstered the album’s growing reputation, and by the time Prass’ self-titled debut saw the light of day in January 2015, it was highly anticipated and critically well-received.
After a year of touring her breakout release, Prass scheduled sessions to begin recording her follow-up. Jarred by the 2016 presidential election, she ended up scrapping all of the material she’d previously written and spent the following months crafting an entirely new set of songs bearing a strong feminist message and defiant celebratory feel. Recorded again with White and his Spacebomb crew, The Future and the Past stripped away the lush arrangements of her debut in favor of a leaner, more groove-based sound. The album was released in early 2018. ~ Timothy Monger