Where Natalie Jean’s earliest releases flickered with aspirational fervor, her latest album, “Unafraid”, oozes unhurried glamour, confidence and moments of sweeping grandeur. Natalie shifts between genres with graceful precision, breaking down the limiting barriers of confessional expression. On “Unafraid”, Natalie asserts her control, proving that she can be whoever she wants to be. Opener “Looking Back” finds her in a synthpop echo chamber gently crooning lines like, “Looking back, I never loved you. Looking back I never really wanted you”. It’s a song of slow awakening to discovering who you really are, as her thick, rich timbre spreads over the chrome synth and drumscapes like molasses.
“Please Don’t” (featuring Michael Peloso) finds Natalie, forcefully, but tenderly telling an ex, that there is no chance of stitching a disintegrated romance back together again. “I’ll be damned if I let you come back and steal my soul. You want it all and leave me here with nothing,” she sings.
Things take a turn on the soul-revving “Now I See” — Natalie Jean’s exaggerated bravado is impossible to ignore as she crosses her arms and stubbornly asserts, “Now I, now I, now I see, your shadow on these walls.” She commandingly shakes the lies and illusions out of the situation like loose change as her timbre quivers with breathy, whispering melodrama.
“Over You” rides this energy into an open-armed, climactic profession of a love consumed and extricated, the vulnerable admission that “Living through that deepest part of me, I cannot feel, I cannot find that piece that once belonged to you.” The following track, “Unafraid”, is perhaps the album’s most lyrically vivid track.
Here Natalie’s register sounds bold and confident, like she’s holding a match that’s burning too close to her fingers, without the fear of scorching herself. The tension builds like rising water behind a levy, eventually unleashing a soaring chorus that showcases all of Natalie’s power and grace.
“You” sticks to the theme of love, but picks up the rhythm and finds Natalie howling, ranting and raving, pushing her vocal cords towards unveiling a whole new box of tricks. The pulsating beats, affecting vocals, and brilliant refrain on “Red Room” are all the hallmarks of a brilliant pop song. It stands out from the other tracks as proof that it was a cathartic process for the singer.
One thing is clear from listening to each of these introspective and emotional tracks; Natalie Jean is not wilting like a flower; the girl is fierce.
“Map” is full of infectious dance floor energy, and catchy hooks. Natalie’s voice again shines on the stripped-back, down-tempo track, “Will I”, with the tension racked up and Natalie’s intelligent lyrics offering a focus for her need to be loved.
The album “Unafraid” sets a standard, but not as an act of revenge in the face of sentimental experiences. It’s an example of how you should conduct yourself through self-assertion and self-discovery; Natalie Jean has turned out an album of real life experiences.
The songs here offer a lot more depth and sees Natalie taking control of the essence of her being. It’s too easy to look at this as a recount of all her hard or heartbreaking times. The varying themes explored, point to one fact only: this album is about Natalie Jean growing up. And what a woman she has become!
Essential Tracks: “Unafraid”, “Red Room”, and “Will I”.
Currently Natalie Jean is also involved in a project called “SHINE ON” with award-winning pop-rock artist, Dennis Sy and hip-hop emcee and producer, Darick DDS Spears. Together these three acclaimed and lauded artists deliver a song that’s meant to enlighten, uplift and unite our spirits in a crusade against division and differences of any discriminating kind. You can find out more on the project HERE.