Pictures of Mars is a personal and heartfelt album – celebratory, introspective and optimistic. The lyrics are personal and direct, recounting individual experiences and speaking to universals of the human condition, riding on memorable melodies and hard-punching pop production. The record serves as a showcase for Nat G’s considerable vocal agility while offering absolution and catharsis to listeners and the artist.

Opener “Back to Life” begins with solo piano, inviting the object of song’s narrative to salvation and paving the way for an album of two halves. The first side is musically more jaunty and organic, featuring swinging jazz toe-tapper “Big Dream”, leading to “Melting”, reminiscent of early Motown classics, and crowned by impassioned “Alive”. These songs highlight Nat’s lush contralto that invokes Etta and Aretha, alongside her soaring soprano lines, propelled by sumptuous string arrangements to breathtaking emotional heights. The tremolo in her voice is heartbreaking.

With “Hard to Me” the album shifts gear sonically and compositionally. This lover’s lament is a standout track, with belted anthemic chorus and huge filthy synths evoking Goldfrapp. “Disappear” is another killer cut from this wonderful album, in which Nat pleads for her lover to stay, offering spiritual and sensual succour enveloped in gorgeous, thick velvet sound. The shoe appears on the other foot in “Drunk” and “Powerless”, in which Nat desires only to submit to the one. “Time of Our Life” is a pop country song about seizing the day, prefacing album closer, “I Choose You”, which wins best bass line of this collection.

This fun, heartfelt and emotionally mature album positions Nat G somewhere between Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Joss Stone, with the vocal prowess of Christina Aguilera. These songs made me want to hang more with Nat G, so I went straight in to listen again. Who could resist her allure?

Pictures of Mars is available from Nat G’s website.

 

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