Nathalie Nahai,
Nathalie Nahai
(Fuzzy Muskrat, 2006)

London-based singer-songwriter Nathalie Nahai has achieved an appealing and accessible debut album. Nahai's beautifully poised voice, which is not afraid to explore emotional nuances, successfully links with her own multi-instrumental skills (on acoustic and slide guitars, piano, violin and Wurlitzer) and five other musicians to create an expansive sound. Her lyrics are direct, simple and yet powerful; for example, the album begins, "It's not far / as the crow flies / come on down / I'll hold your hand."

The album is nicely balanced between the bigger sound of fully accompanied songs and the more stripped-back numbers in which Nahai's acoustic guitar delicately supports her strong vocals. The opener, "It's Not Far," hints at a KT Tunstall influence or similarity -- as elsewhere on the album -- with its strong rhythm section, style of song and impact of the acoustic guitar. There is great big live stage potential in this song as with a number of others including "Here Tonight," "Going Down" and "Prophecy" -- the last is very characteristic of the album with its clear, uncluttered sound and sense of musical balance.

Two drummers, Andy Bauer and Tommy Tjoflat, are used effectively on different tracks as both deftly link Nahai's voice with the full band. John Thomas Hall on bass and Ryan Pitchford on electric guitar explore various routes with their accompaniment without distracting from Nahai's vocals or indeed her own accomplished instrumental contribution. "Breathe" includes some ambient effects but the album concentrates more on the impact of voice.

This is a successful debut suggesting further promise and perhaps greater experimentation in the future. It is an album likely to appeal to a broad spectrum of musical tastes.

by Andy Jurgis
16 September 2006

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