Natty - Man Like I

I’d be lying if I said I was a regular listener and a fanatic of the reggae genre of which Natty fits most comfortably into, so his debut album was not at the top of my list of things to listen to. However his infectiously happy attitude when I saw him perform at Latitude definitely won me over. It’s a bonus that his songs aren’t half bad either.

A singer-songwriter succeeds or fails based on their lyrics. In my opinion, the lyrics have to tell a story and make the listener feel emotionally involved in the song as though they were living it out themselves. With Man Like I, Natty hasn’t managed to just come up with one or two stories to tell, he could have written a bestselling collection of short stories to rival the Bible based purely on his lyrics on display in this album. But they also come packed with messages, some less subtle than others it has to be said, about the state of the world we live in.

Of course you don’t just have to take my word for it, what kind of reviewer would I be to not back up these statements with cold hard facts? On the stand out track on the album Coloured Souls he sings of being part of the “playstation generation, X box’d up on your CCTV/You can file us under hoody or ASBO as you take away our identity”. But alongside these general messages are the more heartfelt and personal tales such as Revolution. “Standing before me is a shadow of a man who dreamed of a revolution. I dreamed of a revolution.”

Most recognisable to casual fans of Natty is the track July recently released as a single. Despite some daft lyrics like “July/It was a lovely year” it still manages to transport you into a world where the British summer is always sunny and beautiful. Then again it also made me slightly angry at the song when I stepped out from the song into the bleak and depressing British summer.

While there are strong reggae links evident on this album, Natty also plays and experiments with so many different styles to make the current crop of London singer-songwriters weep into their Nike trainers (that’s a Lily Allen dig not a Kate Nash one if you were wondering). From the pop of Bedroom Eyes through the African-influenced Coloured Souls to the soulful and sombre closing track Say Bye Bye, there is bound to be something on this album that everyone can like.

However, despite the different genres, all too often the songs fall into the same style and tempo of slow for the verses and fast for the chorus. Luckily for Natty when the style is as effective as his is, then you can overlook it and carry on listening to one of the most impressive debut albums in a long time.

Now where’s that back catalogue of Bob Marley for me to listen to…



out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 22:36:03

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