Album Review: Houses – Natalie Evans

Joel Frosh reviews up and coming British singer-songwriter Natalie Evans’ new EP.

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Natalie Evans – Houses

Natalie Evans started as a part of the Myspace indie-folk scene, where she uploaded catchy, densely lyrical songs such as ‘Daisy Chain’. However, her distinctive child-like voice and fiddily guitar parts built a real following after the release of her first four-track EP in 2010. Later that year she teamed up with producer Martin Ruffin (In Lieu Of A Studio) where she experimented with different sounds, instruments and vocal harmonies with her re-recorded tracks ‘Headcase’ and ‘Pens and Paper’.

After a long quiet period, the Natalie Evans buzz kicked off again as she recently whetted all of our appetites with her a capella home recordings. And now finally, just over two years since her last studio recording, Natalie is back with an EP to be excited about. Houses is a treat for Natalie Evans fans – six songs, full of virtuoso guitar parts, beautiful harmonies, catchy melodies, layered production and charming lyrics. Natalie’s innocent voice has never sounded better and Ruffin has done a fantastic job to create a distinctive sound for the EP as a whole.

Opening song ‘Wake Up’, somewhat ironically considering its name, introduces us to the dreamlike tone that is used throughout the EP. As with most of the other tracks we get to hear Natalie’s distinctive guitar style clearly whilst reverberated sounds in the background build on the ethereal atmosphere.

Second track ‘Butterflies’ is the perfect single. It manages to be catchy, cutesy, but personal and never annoying. Beautiful violins, which reoccur in other songs such as ‘Library Days’, work perfectly to create a real emotional impact. An optimistic chorus of Natalies sing the main hook in the song “If I was a butterfly/I’d make love happen all the time…” yet there is still a hint of melancholy, as every optimism in this EP is only in the mind of an artist who wishes she could be or do other things. This is picked up later in ‘Gymnastics’, a song about dreaming to be better at gymnastics than you actually are. As common with much of Natalie’s music, the song suggests a child-like image of the artist with lines such as, “My muscles are too small.”

For me, the highlight of this EP comes with the final track ‘Houses’, which has some recognisable melodies from Natalie’s live shows. It is lyrically brilliant, has her distinctive slide guitar parts, as well as added sounds such as claps and glocks. The final line feels like a proper end to the Houses EP journey “I imagine if I tried I’d over-think everything/except the way I’m travelling/and never find my house again.”

Natalie Evans has matured enormously with her Houses EP. It is perfectly judged and has everything she needs to get the recognition that she deserves. She has something that is rare nowadays; a distinctive style and persona that is completely natural and is in no way thought-out or contrived. Everyone can connect with this Peter Pan like performer as her songs evoke such nostalgia allowing us to fully absorb ourselves in a recognisably lost childhood dream.

Natalie Evans is playing her launch show on Friday 22nd March at Singapora Lounge in Rochester.

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