March 6, 2017 Natalie Cressman – The Traces (EP Review)
In popular music, usually the instruments that have the most sex appeal are the guitar, piano, drums, or bass guitar. Then there is Northern California’s Natalie Cressman, who makes a case for the trombone as a cool instrument. Born to parents who were musicians, Cressman would be heavily influenced by Jazz and Latin music. Inspired to create her own music, from her humble beginnings as a sultry songstress, Cressman has returned with the Jazz Electronica, South American infused, The Traces EP.
In a recent interview with Elliot Engebretson, discussing songwriting utilizing technology, Cressman stated,“This was a really different process than anything I’ve ever done before. I basically starting writing for this shortly after my last release, Turn the Sea, which was again a live band setting but already starting to veer a little bit away from the Jazz world that I grew up in and into this more eclectic, funky singer-songwriter thrown into a blender style. I was really starting to get into working with the software program Ableton Live, and I began using that as a writing tool to build songs, whereas before I was just coming up with a melody, lyrics, and then the chorus on the piano before bringing it to my band.”
Only 25-years old, the current New York residing Cressman offers a silky smooth voice that flows from a variety of genre-jumping grooves. Infused with Latin and Brazilian flavors, The Traces is a banquet of things to come from the prodigious groove of the Funk driven Jazz that Cressman offers. Mixed by Patrick Brown at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, California, mastered by Alex Wharton at Abbey Road in London, England, each track written by Cressman on The Traces offers something different.
Starting with the single “Radio Silence,” it immediately becomes apparent that listeners are in for new sound as the trombonist blends her vocal chops in a very Pop groove. Then, “Wind of Whims” is lush and melodic, providing a stellar medley of styles. In addition, Cressman’s Jazz vocals soar while her skills as a trombonist shine in the arrangement. This provides for a delightful transition into the lyrically simple “Love Me Blind,” which is a sensual blend of cultures and instrumentation, making for a spicy, yet sweet love song.
Then there is “Where We Started,” which showcases more of Cressman’s impressive vocals while the instrumentation it itself is ethereal with a fresh emphasis on piano and strings, contradictory to the rest of the EP. Ending the musical journey, “Traces” reinforces the idea that musicality is an element in one’s DNA. Smooth, calming, and airy, Cressman’s mesh of worldly instruments is magically displayed until the final note.
Those interested, Cressman has three release shows lined up for The Traces, including March 24th in NYC at American Beauty, March 25th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Ardmore Music Hall, and May 11th in San Francisco at Boom Boom Room. Going from coast to coast and around the world, Natalie Cressman offers a refreshing look at modern Pop music. Call it Jazz, Funk, Latin, Jam, Brazilian, Electronica, or Groove, The Traces is just plain, delicious ear-candy. CrypticRock gives this EP 5 out of 5 stars.