As the seasons begin to transition and the nights grow cooler, Natalie Walkerâ€™s second solo album might be just the cure for those of us longing for one more touch of the sunâ€™s fading light. Originally the lead vocals of the brilliant trip-hop group Daughter Darling, Walker eventually launched a solo career in 2006 with the release of her debut, Urban Angel. The albumâ€™s contents, a gorgeous mixture of airy strings and whispering vocals, soon wove their way onto Grayâ€™s Anatomy episodes and the playlists of KCRW, resulting in an influx of indie-pop fans.
Now, Walker continues on in her traditional style on her new album With You, a soothing, electronica-tinged collection that serves as a fitting companion piece to Walkerâ€™s original. Seductive, soothing, and nearly ethereal, the album sways in and out with multi-layered breathing and warm rushes of synthesizers and strings similar to that of Goldfrappâ€™s latest effort, Seventh Tree. While again utilizing Stuhr, the same production team used for her debut album, Walkerâ€™s work has formed a more mature build of sound: More layering, more instruments, and more production techniques all characterize the tracks of With You.
Leading off the album is â€œLost My Shadow,â€ a pensive, drifting track that echoes beautifully as Walker croons: â€œMy shadow sleeps on the outside / Sheâ€™s far away, strength is fading fast / She says itâ€™s cold and Iâ€™m so tired/ Sheâ€™s all I ever had, now she might not come back.â€ Itâ€™s one of the albumâ€™s darkest moments, and a stark contrast to the follow-up track â€œPink Neon,â€ a glittering, beating burst of energy comprised mainly of light, airy notes and falsetto vocals. Unlike her first album, Walker makes use of more than just her whispery vocals on this album. The kiss-off track, â€œToo Lateâ€ is an enjoyable coupling of dismissing lyricism and steady synth-rock beats, all surrounded by a spooky ether of synthesizers that make the track sound like itâ€™s been recorded underwater.
Walker does take more chances within her sophomore effort, including â€œOrdinary,â€ an attack track against an ego heavy boyfriend, delivered in a restrained, folk manner reminiscent of indie darling Feist covering an Alanis Morrissette track: â€œI think you lost your mind / Tight jeans, haircut? Oh, please,â€ she laments as the song continues to build and build to crashing proportions. However, itâ€™s the fifth track, â€œOver & Under,â€ where Walker truly breaks into her own. The track is a moody, multi-layered affair with New Wave influences that rises and falls as Walker goes through all the motions of love. â€œWhatâ€™s this again?â€ Walker wearily speak-sings, â€œI heard this so many times. Youâ€™re scared, Iâ€™m tired, I canâ€™t reach in and find a way to say this is the last time,â€ she pleads, before the brooding chorus launches in its bouncing, electro manner that secures the song as one of the albumâ€™s finest tracks.
With a bit more vocal freedom and production experimentation, Walkerâ€™s second effort With You marks a distinct growth in her progress as a solo artist. It is a more cohesive, memorable effort, proving her music to be far more than a few layers of vocals. Itâ€™s sleepy, sultry, and offers just enough summery warmth to carry into the fall season.
Please check out Natalie’s music at her website here!
Photo credit: Jason Frank Rothenberg