(17 April 2005) Natasha Lea Jones was one half, with Sharon Lewis, of the UK duo Pooka, and The Morning After (Independent Release (UK), 2003) is her first solo album since they went their separate ways.
A feature of this album, as it was with much of Pooka's work, are the swooping vocals--no-one can slide across notes quite like Natasha Jones, and the album is also strewn with extraordinary, pushed-to-the-limit harmonies.
As well as providing all the voices, Natasha plays most of the instruments on the album, including bass. On most of the songs acoustic guitar is her weapon of choice, but she adopts the piano to great effect on tracks like "Birthday" and "Instinctive Desire."
One of Pooka's many charms was their lyrically honesty. They never shied away from airing their most intimate thoughts and emotions and it's great to see that Natasha has maintained that tradition. Nice too that the lyrics here are specific to the singer, not trite generalisations - it gives the album a confessional feel, as if the performer and listener are sharing secrets.
The music ranges from the relative simplicity of voice and acoustic guitar on songs like "Naked Flame" and "Fate No Fall," through more full-on tracks like the powerful opening number "Monsoon," to the strange and ethereal as on magical "Cure My Sentiment."
Those of you familar with Pooka's work--and shame on you if you're not--will recognise the quirky 'go-with-it' song writing style - the music here pays no lip service to conventional structures.
"Birthday," for example, is a terrific stream of consciousness song about the disillusionment of getting older, of losing that youthful zest for life. It also reflects on friendship and on becoming aware of how precious time is and how much of it we waste.
The closing song, which gives it's name to the album, is one of the simplest and strongest pieces on the disc. It has the same hypnotic beauty that Neil Young conjured up on say his After The Goldrush album.
This is not a CD that's going to rip your head off on first play--it demands a bit of work from the listener, but the rewards are great; and over a period of time you'll find it insinuating itself into your consciousness. Weird, wonderful and very beautiful.--Jamie Field in Hereford England