Natalie Walker
Spark


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
December 2nd, 2011 | 23 replies | 4,575 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Natalie Walker returns to trip hop and drags her pop influences along for the ride.

Natalie Walker began her career as the vocalist for trip hop group Daughter Darling, but it didn’t take her very long to decide to go solo. Her first solo release, though, didn’t turn out to be much different than the band she had just left – mainly due to the fact that it was supposed to be the second Daughter Darling release. It wasn’t until her second album, With You, that she stepped away from the chill trip hop of her initial band, and towards a much more upbeat pop direction. The tempos were increased, the melodies were cheerier and the vocal hooks were infectious, but it also relegated the trip hop influences to a supporting role. Natalie Walker’s third album, Spark, definitely still brings the pop influence of the previous release, but it does so while employing a prominent trip hop blueprint.

Opening track (and first single) “Uptight” features the kind of subdued trip hop that Natalie Walker hasn’t created since her Daughter Darling days, but it is feels much more developed. The chorus is instantly memorable and the accompanying melodic layers – including acoustic guitar, violins, and keyboards – add a fullness that her music has previously lacked. In fact, the album is dominated by this more fully-developed take on Natalie’s trip hop roots. Just about every track makes use of a solid trip hop foundation, a warm layer of melodic elements, a subtle pop undercurrent and Natalie’s poignant vocals. The difference between these songs and Natalie’s previous endeavors is that everything feels much more complete and nothing feels awkward or out-of-place. In fact, the only song to take on the upbeat nature of the previous album is the catchy “Cool Kids”, but even that song is much better than anything she has done previously.

Let’s face it, there are some great songs in Natalie Walker’s back-catalog, but none of her albums have been consistent from start to finish -- that finally changes with the release of Spark. Her decision to integrate a bit of the levity and pop influence from With You into the trip hop of her earliest material has turned out to be the formula that works best. It has allowed her to cater to those that loved the chill beats and lush melodies of her earliest material while still appealing to those that require their music to be much more instant and cheerful.



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user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
December 2nd 2011



15876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've had this sitting half-finished since before the album was released... one of a few reviews I'm going to try to finish for 2011 albums.

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xxxzzz
December 2nd 2011



12 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Her debut is one of my favorite albums, and I quite enjoy this one. Wish it was a bit longer though. Great review

taylormemer
December 2nd 2011



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks trey. Will check this out.

Acanthus
December 3rd 2011



9537 Comments


Willie's alive!

Digging: The Cure - The Head on the Door

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2011



30873 Comments


Yeah, this is quite nice

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Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
December 3rd 2011



7021 Comments


the albums you like tend to have atrocious covers

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

RangerTaffles
December 3rd 2011



252 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have to hear this. Sounds really cool.

taylormemer
December 3rd 2011



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"the albums you like tend to have atrocious covers"

Lol so true. This is one of the first things I noticed about trey.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2011



5915 Comments


Long time no see man



Will read later.

Digging: Essence Beyond - Carnivalism

Willie
Moderator
December 3rd 2011



15876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know why a lot of them have crap covers. This one is for sure. I don't worry about album art these days.

Tyrael
December 3rd 2011



20737 Comments


Sounds interesting

I need more trip-hop in my diet

Willie
Moderator
December 3rd 2011



15876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's worth looking into. Fuck the cover ;)

Tyrael
December 3rd 2011



20737 Comments


First listen and I'm impressed

Probably gonna be a 3.5-4

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 3rd 2011



10585 Comments


Nifty. Admittingly, I've not heard much trip hop, but since 2011 has been winding down, I spose it wouldn't hurt to give this a try.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Nikkolae
December 3rd 2011



4767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this sounds really good, youtubeing it

Digging: We Came Out Like Tigers - Ever-Crushed at Pecket's Well

Wolfhorde
December 3rd 2011



12070 Comments


If the singing isn't too "overzealous" I might check this out. Need some new stuff to sleep to. (no joke)

Nikkolae
December 3rd 2011



4767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool kids is such a good song, wolf this is a really bouncy album so i think it wont work for you

Willie
Moderator
December 4th 2011



15876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anyone that is digging this (or that likes it, but wishes it was a bit more mellow) try the Daughter Darling album.

taylormemer
December 6th 2011



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Overdubbing in Cool Kids is immense. Otherwise, so far I'm probably gonna settle for a 3-3.5.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2011



5915 Comments


The review makes me wanna check this, as female fronted pop pushes my buttons every once in a while.



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