Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past

On her new album, Natalie Prass beautifully channels a host of influences whilst feeling incredibly fresh

Album Review by Harry Harris | 25 May 2018
Album title: The Future and the Past
Artist: Natalie Prass
Label: ATO Records
Release date: 1 Jun

Sometimes when an artist comes out with a kind of knowing, retro sound, there's a risk of them sounding like they're looking backwards. Natalie Prass has almost exclusively been described in terms of those who have come before her. However, her eyes are fixed firmly forward and this record beautifully channels those influences whilst feeling incredibly fresh: The Future and the Past

When single Short Court Style dropped earlier this year, it marked a shift in sound from Prass' debut – all whoops and sly, subtle guitar licks with sweet 70s piano pushing everything along, and Prass' signature voice filling in the blanks. The song is not an anomaly on the record. Sisters has a similar groove, albeit with a more urgent, anthemic chorus, while Never Too Late leans into the jazz influences even further, showcasing just how good her band is, giving them room to flourish.  

Prass picks and chooses when these moments are allowed to happen. More often, she runs a tight ship; nothing feels out of place, and everything feels very considered. The Fire is probably one of the more conventional tracks on the record, but small vocal tweaks in the second verse and a gorgeous verse-chorus segue make it one of the highlights. Nothing To Say is another pared back affair, maybe unsurprising given it's one of the record's older cuts (you can find clips online of Prass playing it live as far back as 2012) – it's basically a power ballad. Big, chunky piano chords and a coda that deserves to be sung along to with everything you have.

You absolutely can hear the fingerprints of Prass' influences across these tracks, but as well as the Dusty Springfield and Karen Carpenter tones that colour her first record, there's bits of Dionne Warwick, Laura Nyro and Diana Ross. More than that though, you're hearing a songwriter who seems to know exactly what she wants to make, and has all the tools to do that. A glorious, glorious album.

Listen to: Nothing To Say, The Fire, Sisters