Philadelphia-based vocalist and songwriter Natalie Walker holds my attention with the sheer beauty of her voice. Fans of down-tempo may remember Walker as the vocalist of Daughter Darling, but this remarkable talent has struck out on her own. Walker's debut, Urban Angel, is a gorgeous piece of work, a twelve-track album that is both melancholy and hopeful. Influenced by the likes of Jewel, Beth Orton and Bjork, Walker melds folk, soul, and electronica into fairytale symphonies that are complex, haunting and perfectly sung. The album works on all levels, with breathtaking lyrics and vocals setting the tone for the understated and compelling productions.
Urban Angel can be played straight through. It creates an entire universe around itself, drawing us into a familiar but distinct place. Walker's mesmerizing voice is the album's backbone; she sounds like an American version of Dido, occasionally soaring to Bjork-style fits of ecstasy. But the album's strength is its songwriting, the layered hooks and compelling arrangements laced under poetry such as "She pulls us in/ And wraps us in her chill/ She holds us close/ And now we can be still./ We're okay here/ We'll stay here/ For a little longer" from the title track. Like Bjork's, the lyrics are often too complex to understand, but the presentation holds everything together.
The production is down-tempo electronica at its best, simply creating an atmosphere for the emotional depth of the vocalist to shine through. The delicate music, all tinkling pianos, soaring strings, moody bass, and eerie electronics, is but a whisper next to Walker's powerful vocal performance. Tracks such as first single "No One Else" and the equally ethereal "Waking Dream" find the perfect balance between organic and otherworldly elements.
Urban Angel is brave, confident, thought-provoking and beautiful. And within the current musical landscape, it deserves to be embraced.
Label: http://www.dorado.net/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/nataliewalkermusic
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