Natalie Slade is a singer with a warm, rich voice that she uses to lovely effect on her debut album Control. Working with producer/arranger Simon Mavin (of the celebrated band Hiatus Kaiyote), the Australian songbird has a presence that is cool yet simmering – straddling a space that lies somewhere between N’Dambi’s bluesy cool and the playful charm of Reva DeVito.
Control soars from the start, as the opening track “Cloud Cover” rushes in with a brightly lit arrangement and some mood-lifting harmonies from Natalie. For his part, Simon peels out of the starting gate with a kinetic backing beat brimming with fluttering rhythms and busy melodies. Shifting down a few gears for the next track, the album slips into some lush, neo-soul waters with an offering called “Humidity”. The tune opens with a simple Fender Rhodes/finger-snapping combo before quickly blooming into a shoulder-rocking, summertime groove. Slade proves herself to be a graceful storyteller on this track and fashions one the LP’s most absorbing numbers with this midtempo beauty.
The title track “Control” follows next and can feel like a relatively abrupt change in course for the album as it starts off with some chugging kick-drums and a sharper, broken-beat feel. However, the tonal shift promptly pays off as the Aussie vocalist skillfully shifts between giving off a hard-house-diva vibe one minute then tapping into a vein of soaring soul the next. Other highlights on Control include a distantly stormy piece called “Colour”, which is driven forward by a bustling drum-break and haunting strings, as well as a high-energy, electro-soul odyssey called “Gimme Ya Love”.
No doubt Natalie Slade has found herself fielding comparisons to Haitus Kaiyote, and its frontwoman Nai Palm, as she spreads the word about her debut set. But make no mistake, this singer has put together a hypnotic and satisfying future-soul album with Control – a record that is sure to have a little something for music fans from all walks of life.
Control is out now via Eglo Records.