Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1094

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Natasha Watts: N Power

Natasha Watts
Natasha Watts Natasha Watts Natasha Watts Natasha Watts

Having first sung professionally at the age of 16, UK soul songstress Natasha Watts this month releases her eagerly-anticipated sophomore album, the appropriately-titled “Natasha Watts: Second Time Around”. Which, largely produced by acclaimed Danish/German duo Frank Ryle & Rob Hardt - aka Cool Million - and released through Hardt’s Bremerhaven-based SedSoul label, not only marks the follow-up to Natasha’s well-received 2014-released self-titled debut set, but also boasts production input from acclaimed UK soul artist Richard Earnshaw; Essex’s Dave Doyle (of Tony Momrelle “Spotlight” notoriety); and Leeds-based Dan Goldman (Morcheeba/TY). Meanwhile, guest vocal appearances this time round come prestigiously from internationally-recognised Brit-soul don Omar (the hypnotically-sparse “Insatiable”) plus, on the uplifting-and-hooky “Easy Come Easy Go”, Yorkshire’s JD73 (aka the aforementioned Goldman).

Indeed, with its musical moods ranging from the feel-good, sax-heavy vibe of “Waited For You” and seductively sensual “Breathe” to the stripped-back, piano-accompanied “Everything” and smoky, jazz-tinged atmospherics of “Lonely” , “Natasha Watts: Second Time Around” marks a strong second LP release for the Basingstoke-born-and-raised singer/songwriter who was raised on the reggae, jazz, blues, funk and soul of her DJ father’s extensive record collection along with her elder sister’s love of rare groove and Eighties R&B.

Having initially trained in ballet, tap and jazz dance, it wasn’t until the tender age of 14 that a young Natasha would first decide to take singing seriously. A decision which two years later would lead to her being taken under the musical wing of Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly percussionist Roame Lowry who would in turn take her with him to America. Where as well as making her first recordings she would eventually go on to perform in the stage musical “He Say… She Say... But What Does GOD Say?” alongside chart-topping gospel icons Kirk Franklin and The Family.

Nevertheless, with her stay in the US being cut short with the arrival of her son Taylor, a now-once-more-UK-based Natasha - after taking several years out from music - would eventually re-emerge in 2006 as lead-singer with funk band Funkshone. Since which time - after taking further time out around the passing of her mother in 2008 - she has lent both her vocal and songwriting talents to several successful dance music projects (including Reel People; Bugz In The Attic’s Kaidi Tathum; Speedometer; and Yam Who?) in addition to, in more recent years, hooking up with aforementioned North-European-based modern soul producer/writers Cool Million with whom she collaborated for her aforementioned 2014-released debut album.

… Which in turn pretty much brings us back to today and this month’s release of “Natasha Watts: Second Time Around”. As an enthusiastic and ever-chatty Ms. Watts - who interestingly began her entertainment career as a teenage Butlins Redcoat! -reacquaints herself with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis for a breezy-and-informative catch-up interview.

What she primarily wanted to achieve musically with “Natasha Watts: The Second Time Around”

“More than anything I wanted to sty true to myself while at the same time definitely making my sound more LIVE-based. So while I have stayed with the modern soul style I still do have some surprise elements in there. Which is why I have, say, one particular track called “Make It” that’s a little bit more guitar-based and that actually sounds slightly more commercial than what I’d normally do; then there’s also a song called “Lonely” with more of a JAZZ feel that’s got a double-bass and PIANO in it... So yeah, while I definitely wanted to revisit what I’d done before, I did also want to add some fresh, new SOUNDS - and I do think I’ve ACHIEVED that.”

Her lyrical themes this time round

“Well, I always try to write good messages. And I think this particular album is still very much written based on scenarios that have occurred in my life or in the lives of people AROUND me. Like funnily enough, when I went to Germany to write some more tracks last September there was a particular situation going on with my son and his first love and, because I was finding it quite hard as a mum to just sit back and watch your child going through some upsetting stuff, it was actually on that particular night that I wrote the song “Love Who You ARE” where the message I wanted to get across to him was that, although I know he’s in pain and I’m not taking AWAY the pain that he’s in, I really want him to understand that tomorrow’s gonna be another DAY... So yeah, as I say, a lot of the songs are based on personal situations, because I think that’s the only way I CAN write.”

What we can expect in terms of Natasha’s upcoming live shows

“Well, the live dates in the UK start on April the Second and then continue on the following weekend, the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth. And what you can expect from the show is cuts from the new album, favourites from the OLD album, plus a couple of nice covers thrown in there just to give people a little of that FAMILIARITY. Plus on the London date Omar is gonna rock up and we’re gonna do our track together - which will be fantastic - while in Manchester JD73 will be coming along which is ALSO great. And then in terms of what the future holds after that, I am hoping that once the album is out MORE tour dates will come in, particularly in EUROPE. You know, I’m looking to take it over to Germany and then maybe go to France, Switzerland - I mean, ANYTHING’s possible. Then come the autumn I’d like do perhaps another date in London again, this time maybe on a bigger scale - I guess somewhere like The Jazz Café if it’ll be open again by then.”

Natasha’s UK Album Launch Tour takes in London, Under The Bridge (April 2); Manchester, Band On The Wall (8); Newcastle, Hoochie Coohi (9); and Birmingham, Hare & Hounds (10)

The album “Natasha Watts: Second Time Around” is released April 4 through SedSoul - click below to pre-order.


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