(28 December 2007) Paris-born singer-songwriter Natascha Sohl announced herself to the world in 2004 when she released her debut offering Strange Fascination (Granite Music (UK), 5 036098 003888, 2003). A promising album of addictive pop-rock that garnered positive reviews and saw Natascha embark on a string of live performances, including a performance of lead single "Are You Ready" at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Music Radio and a handful of acoustic performances in New York during the summer of the same year. Other notable achievements post-Strange Fascination include performing for Children In Need, and singing the UK National Anthem 'a capella' in Wembley Arena. She's been kept busy, and now, after finding time to return to the studio and re-focus, she presents us with a second full-length album entitled: Dirty Little Word. Several years have passed since her debut saw light, and this is the album Natascha hopes will see her build upon a solid start and make use of the experience gained through the gift of such past diverse live performances and opportunities.
The premise is much like that of Strange Fascination (Granite Music (UK), 2007). Thirteen tracks are wrapped in a rich, full production that feels more polished and impacting than the slightly raw edge that was both a strength and weakness on Natascha's debut. The songs have that little more fight and energy to them, helped by Natascha's vocals that feel more whole, her delivery more confident and adventurous.
"Naked" opens with warm guitar and swaying vocals before a mid-paced verse lets Natascha's softer vocal style shine. The chorus is where we see her at her best as a feisty, energetic delivery bursts this song to life, you sense she really means it as she cries: "I can't have it and I can't hold it back" with determination. A hook-filled number and a great way to launch you into the album. Title track "Dirty Little Word" is similarly filled with an edgy individuality as Natascha deals with the 'other side' of love, crisp distorted guitar driving a stadium-filling chorus as she soars: "Love is just a dirty little word". Simplistic instrumentation of steady drums and pacing bass allows the vocals to take prominence in a straight-out pop anthem.
"Beauty In The Silence" introduces itself with acoustic pluckings and soft vocal-work, leading to a catchy, melodicious chorus which again sees Natascha shine as she effortlessly rises above the simple drums and guitar, singing of the strength gained from leaving her past behind and finding solace in the gift of silence: "Cause there is beauty in the silence, I'm feeling so much better now".
The album highlight comes in the eighth song,"Fade." A moving tale of a day just like any other that turned into something much more after the delivery of some tragic news. Natascha's fragile vocals tell the tale, hovering amongst delicate guitar melodies and acoustic strumming before a touching chorus breaks through the melancholy, one as memorable as it is emotional which sees Natascha promise to herself: "I will carry you inside, like a flame that will not die, with a love that will not fade" It's a song fittingly chosen to feature in US hit teen drama series Newport Harbour, exposure which can only enhance her emerging profile.
Subtle keyboards enhance an equally emotional chorus in following song "Yesterday's Rain" with closer "Afterglow" bringing the album to a delicate close as haunting strings and acoustic guitar build to a middle-eastern sounding chorus with vocal hums from Natascha mixing with swirling melodies and fading tabla beats. Listeners will especially admire the production quality of "I'm Not Listening" and orchestral arrangement of "If I Was A Boy".
Dirty Little Word has seen Natascha Sohl rise in confidence as she delivers an album formed through both the musical and life experience she has no doubt gained over the past few years since her debut release Strange Fascination. Lyrically, she tackles topics real to her and delivers them with vocals full of ability and that were destined for the pop-rock anthems they fill in this latest album. A strong production and easy-on-the-ears instrumentation allows Natascha to take centre stage and it's a challenge she certainly gives her all towards.
Natascha's song writing largely stays inside the tried and tested formula, yet the memorability of each individual song is stronger than on her debut as Dirty Little Word presents a matured, accomplished sound that should appeal to many. Order the limited edition of this album at CDBaby. It seems Natascha Sohl looks set to deservedly grow in popularity and exposure, hoping to share with the
world the music that means so much to her, while connecting with as many as is possible along the way.--Jim Hall in Derby, England and Russ Elliot in New York