Natalie Prass

AMBITIOUS yet approachable, the debut record from US songwriter Natalie Prass sets a high benchmark for the year. From the off, the Nashville resident opens her heart and out pours soulful southern goodness. It is a record documenting a betrayal in a relationship: "Our love is a long goodbye," she sings over and over on album opener My Baby Don't Understand Me, for the avoidance of any initial doubt. The closing It Is You, which might have been cut from a vintage Broadway musical or a Disney movie, showcases the blossoming Spacebomb music factory in Richmond, Virginia through whose doors these songs entered in stripped-down form and exited dressed in the most warming orchestral arrangements. This is a record with heart, soul and virtue close to Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis and Carole King's Tapestry. It is quite simply wonderful.

John Skilbeck