Glad I finally caught up with Natalie Farrell’s four-song ‘Natality’ EP because it’s a winner.
Natalie Farrell is an Asbury Park-based singer-songwriter who effectively flirts with being a dance diva. Her debut EP on the prolific Jersey Shore-based indie Telegraph Hill Records (Avery Mandeville, The Burns, Levy & the Oaks, Foes of Fern) features four rhythmic, lyrical songs, two of which could be considered electronic dance music.
The tasty collection opens with the magnificent “Exhale,”a smooth, sexy anthem about obtaining piece of mind. I love the punchy drums of Owen Flanagan of Levy & the Oaks (as well as Dan Amato & the Sophisticated Gentlemen) and funky, jangly, ringing guitars of co-writer/co-producer/co-label head Matt “Fern” Fernicola. They are layered amidst a mellow melody and exotic rhythms that recall Sade, as well as well-stated rootsiness and soulfulness, like Alannah Myles.
This song sounds like a hit that should be sandwiched between Adele and Taylor Swift on Z-100, yet due to its lyrical nature and musicianship also sounds right on AAA radio, such as the supportive 90.5 the Night. It’s a shame that the otherwise strong track fizzles out at the end. Perhaps “Exhale” can be re-recorded with a better ending for an album and a stronger radio push that the song richly deserves.
The organic-sounding track is followed by “Keep Your Memory,” which is a cross between acoustic rock and mellow dance pop. The sparsely rhythmic chronicle of a couple on the rocks is as danceable as it is listenable, much like Bruno Mars. And the plea to keep the passion within a relationship before it vanishes into memory is as poignantly heartbreaking as it is empowering and liberating.
Up next is “Black Heart,” an outstanding sequel or prequel to “Exhale,” related in that both protagonists “take a deep breath and then exhale.” Whereas in the opening track, she finds peace of mind, in “Black Heart,” a creative soul is at odds with a cruelly indifferent but once loving and inspiring one. I love this track’s funky drum ‘n’ bass intro into more “fungly” guitar from Fern, who also co-wrote and appears on it with an all-star band featuring Flanagan, The Burns’ Joey Henderson, and Levy & the Oaks’ Lou Panico, Farrell’s fiancé. Panico also co-produced “Exhale” and recorded all of the tracks, along with Telegraph Hill owner Joe “Pom” Pomarico, Andrea Morgan, a Berklee bud of Pom and Fern, who also is an acclaimed filmmaker, and/or Chris Badami of Portrait Recording Studio, who mastered the collection. Each took turns producing and mixing various tracks.
The closer is the Latin-flavored mash-up, “Full,” which combines EDM tracks with acoustic guitar, hand percussion and sweet but staccato cut-and-paste vocals ably crafted, along with entertaining effects, by Morgan, who produced and mixed, as well as recorded with Panico. Stronger lyrics than you’ll typically find within dance music examine — depending on your interpretation — the space needed apart from a needy lover or the stifling aspect within one’s own personality. What’s cool is that this tune gives you something to think about while out on the dance floor.
Both “Keep Your Memory” and “Full” should be shopped directly to local DJs, especially at Porta, a dance club surrounded by the many Asbury rock clubs Farrell typically plays, while “Exhale” and “Black Heart” further are promoted at AAA radio. While we wait for “Exhale” to get its due on the airwaves, Farrell will be featured on “One More with Brian Erickson” on Nov. 26 at Asbury Park Music Foundation. She’ll also play the ‘90s New Year’s Eve Party at The Stone Pony with a bill to be announced soon.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.