Natalie Prass – S/T

Review by Steve Marck (outoforder.ca)

As a kid, I kept the fact that Fantasia was my favourite Disney movie a secret. It lacked identity, being largely bereft of the exacting characters and exposition upon which other theatrical animations depended. Deems Taylor’s protracted explanation at the start of the film did nothing to prepare me for the orchestral illustrations that followed. The abstractions in my head moved lucidly and, though I was too young to spell and therefore not likely to understand synaesthesia, its products were now embedded, wordless in my head. In the same way, the projections that Natalie Prass inhibits will endure. I’m certain of it. It’s a heady claim to make, but her first concerted full-length release should clarify any doubts within its initial intake. Though you may miss your favourite parts the first time around—I know I did—this is a collected effort of tenably intricate executions that are delicately pointed, often equal parts poignantly penetrating and loose luminous renderings. Every track is crosshatched so resolutely with blossoming brass and looming strings that it’s easy to be swept up in the movements. Prass has conviction in the bigger picture, and her canvas rolls out from the first few bars of My Baby Don’t Understand Me onward. Layered arrangements conducted by her phenomenal vocal range morph into something all the more animated. Reprise plays like a cat’s cradle, moving from a tangle of panning winds and voices, pulled taut by Prass’ prose, from word to word. Much like finely drawn landscapes, it’s the minute details in this album that keep me poring over it: diffuse flocks of claps, breezy “oohs” and “ahs” throughout. I found myself thinking of every song as a setting—how well-built the backdrops were, how much care and devotion was put into repurposing those hollow feelings of loss as a stage for bigger and better things. Play this record with your doors and windows open, let Natalie Prass paint you a picture.