Review – NATUREBOY – s/t – 82%

Review by Scot Bowman

When I was a teenager, my first true love made me a mixtape. In between songs from The Pretenders, Gene Loves Jezebel and Siouxsie & the Banshees was this amazing, obscure track taken from the soundtrack to the Michael Hutchence movie Dogs in Space. It was a song called “Shivers” by Marie Hoy & Friends. What captured my attention most about the track was the singer’s utterly unique and somber voice. This brings me to the new self-released LP by Natureboy, who isn’t actually a boy, but in fact the name of the new project from former House on a Hill vocalist Sara Kermanshahi.

Upon my initial listen to Natureboy, I was immediately transported back to that mixtape-discovering that heartbreaking voice for the first time. Kermanshahi’s voice left me with that same feeling, which might have something to do with the fact that her voice has a remarkable similarity to Marie Hoy’s. But let the comparisons end there.

This wonderful album is a superbly produced, cohesive collection of deeply personal and beautifully crafted songs, with lyrics that conjure a romantic, noir-like motion picture in your imagination. Anyone with half a soul could get swept up in Kermanshahi’s abstract world. She compels the listener to draw closer.

The sparse opener “Curses Fired” tells a story of breaking away from a life weighted-down and packing metaphorical bags to move on, be it by a train or within the self. The chorus repeats like a bittersweet lullaby:

“I’m going to leave your mind”

It seems to me that traveling, as a means to set oneself free, is a common thread throughout the album. Not to say Kermanshahi is running from her life, as confrontation is also a prevalent factor in these songs, but rather she is dealing with her shit and walking away from what’s not working. Others may have a completely different interpretation of the thematic elements at work here, but the best albums allow the listener to get swept up in their own psyche and create their own visualization of the music.

“Dither” is the album’s turning point. The delicate guitar instrumental at once serves as an interlude, but by the same hand highlights another dimension to Natureboy’s sound. Layered ambient vocal harmonies that swirl around the repetitive arrangement create a dramatic transition into the second half of the album. On “Heart to Fool” it’s as if she were composing the movie of my young adulthood. The part in act II where things hit a snag and I have to reevaluate my direction in a complicated journey. Anyway you look at it, these songs speak to the listener in an intimate way.

In a time when music is so over-produced and candy coated for the attention challenged new generation of youths, it’s nice to hear someone with a real point of view getting to the core of things.

Originally published at kevchino.com.

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