I love Natalie Jean. I’m sure I’m not her target audience but I don’t care. I’ve got a thing for songs about strong, independent and capable women. Natalie fills that need. Her new album “Unafraid” is a solid follow up to her previous work. It’s got a different sound in places where she’s trying some new things – which is a good sign, showing that she does not have a tunnel vision on her talents.
On “Unafraid” she is obviously going for fierce woman power. The rhythm of the album is a more upbeat in places and more intense in others. This is an enormously satisfying album for anyone who likes pop music, but Natalie Jean is so much more than pop – she mixes in flavors of techno, R&B, nu-disco, urban edge and her own original exotic ballad sound.
Natalie has mastered the art of the ear worm. Her melodic hooks work their way into your brain and stick. You’ll find yourself singing bits of her songs in your head all day long.
As I listened to this album for the first time, I found myself smiling multiple times. Though profound and thorough in her compositions, Natalie maintains a flippant quality to her writing that lifts your spirits. This quality is evident in the bluesy swing of “Chasing You” and in the dance rhythms of “Map”.
In my view, Natalie Jean is one the most exciting young female recording artists around, with an enormous potential upside. A wonderful all-round entertainer, Natalie produces music that makes a difference in young lives; especially self-image of young women and their empowerment over their vision of themselves and how others see them.
The title song reveals the album’s recurring and personal themes – confession, affirmation, and fearless self-assertion. Yet she can sing a song called “Unafraid” but still come off as humble. Even her strongest self-empowerment lyrics come with a slight undercurrent of insecurity and a heartfelt admission of pain.
Like Adele and Taylor Swift before her, Natalie seems to put a lot of personal truths into her lyrics, and this is usually a trait that makes the strongest connection with listeners.
When listening to contrasting songs like the heartrending ballad “Will I” and the infectiously rhythmic “You”, Natalie’s artistic endowments becomes even clearer – refreshing talent with lightly poetic words in lyrical messages that the mind digests easily.
Vocals which are a rare combination – sounding like classic, nostalgic singing being delivered by a unique pure voice with the subtle inflective interpretations and phrasing that one looks for in great emerging artists. This futuristic-retro quality is strongly palpable on one of the albums most outstanding tracks, “Red Room”. The delivery is straight-up classic but the result is cutting edge urban – Shirley Bassey meets Rihanna. The track is also endeared with a really catchy synth hook too.
There is not a single track on this album that I would skip. “Unafraid” just shines from start to finish without any duds throwing listeners for a loop. This album is arguably her best effort yet. While the radio-friendliness of these tracks is exceptionally strong, the collective unison of them is even stronger.
There are plenty of earworms here, once listeners embrace the eclectic yet sonically and emotionally unified collection of tracks that Natalie Jean puts forth on this, her boldest, most personal recording to date!
Get the album on iTunes.