Upstairs in Whelan’s, Dublin
25 January 2015
★★★ (out of five)
HIGH on a wave of sensational reviews, Natalie Prass might have expected a flawless first gig of the year to top off the impeccable press being heaped upon her.
Having opened Friday’s newspapers to find her debut album feted by the British media, the Nashville-born songwriter jetted into Dublin only to be met by the flu. It meant her Irish debut was curtailed by the necessity to restrict her delicate vocals over a short set.
Having waited more than two years to take her first record out on the road, Prass was understandably frustrated, and her mild embarrassment showed early on in an inability to raise her voice to the soaring melody of ‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’. She need not have felt so red-faced. Although operating at less than a 100 per cent, there was no disguising the quality of her songs, from Country/ Soul nugget ‘You Fool’ to the infectious melody of ‘Bird of Prey’ and the gorgeously haunting ‘Violently’.
While the arrangements that frame her nuanced songs of heartbreak are injected with strings and horns to bring a verve and vitality on record, here members of Spacebomb – her label-cum-producers-cum-backing-band – have pared things right back to a subtle groove of bass, drums, guitar and keys, without sacrificing such vim and vigour.
The backing trio particularly shine on funky set-closer, ‘Why Don’t You Believe in Me’, to which they bring a real Southern sway to Prass’ soulful strut.
After just 50-minutes, Prass leaves the stage to an audience wanting more, and while, overall, there’s very much a sense of a performer warming up on the first night of her tour, expect her set to be honed and ready by the time she returns to these shores in March to support Ryan Adams.