samedi 11 avril 2009

Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Kylie-like australian pop princess with what a name!

I first heard of Natalie Bassingthwaigthe when I searched who was the singer of electro pop australian Rogue Traders. Then I found her duetting with Pop Idol Shannon Doll with a cover of Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush, Don't give up being featured on some australian charity album next to an unreleased song by Young Divas and Anthony Callea.
Then, despite her incredible name, I forgot about her ...till I found her first solo single Alive had been co-written & produced by former Steps producer Andrew Frampton with swedish Arnthor Birgisson. I first heard its Kaskade remix and thought it was a lot better than what she did with Rogue Traders.

I soon read she was about to release a full length CD after her brand new single Someday soon that had been co-written and produced by ex-METRO members Brian Rawling & Paul Barry. There was no way I could snob her album and I waited patiently for my australian imported CD to come in ym post to look closely the booklet notes while listening to it. I quickly felt releaved : Natalie was more Minogue than Imbruglia-like, after all. 1000 Stars is most made of dance-pop songs like Kylie used to know how to make it and it sounds wonderful to have such an album still in 2009.

It is starting oddly with a full on retro pop-rock Catch me if you can, first of three songs written and produced by the Metrophonic team of Brian Rawling & co. This one is all about 70's disco rock if you know what I mean.
Next one is written by the same people but with a completely different vibe. Someday soon, although startin' acoustic and slowly in the intro, is a full on disco-housed dance-pop number that would have fitted well on Kylie's Fever album. It has got a catchy chorus and typical METRO sounding production ; first winner in my heart and in Australia too : it has sold gold and peaked at #7 in the ARIA charts.
Then comes a song that gives its name to the album, 1000 Stars, and strangely, Natalie has no co-writing involvement on this one, this time. Produced by Chris Braide, this third single is a laidback pop-rock song with atmospheric verses and a full on guitar-led power chorus. I'm not sure it will still do the trick in the charts like the two previous ones.

Then comes Alive, that reached #8 in the charts last year (sold to reach platinum status), which is an infectious pop-dance number with funky rhythm and catchy sing-along chorus. I would have loved to see its Kaskade radio remix and b-side, the excellent Remember me, included as bonuses at the end of the CD.
It is followed by Not for you, Another Chris Braide production he co-wrote with Ina Wroldsen, who is the girl behind nearly all the songs on the Saturdays' first album. This is another pop-rock song, with acoustic guitar giving it a nice rhythm & folk touch in its verses while the chorus is once again a power rock anthem.
Feel the flow comes next and it's a baby made by Natalie with her love partner Cameron McGlinchey, formerly of Rogue Traders. It has been remixed by Brian Rawling into an electro sounding nasty dance-rock, all sleazy and fueled with sexual energy. When the music ends, this one leaves us all sweaty and lusty for more.
Time to call Chris Braide back on the following Could you be loved, not a Bob Marley cover version but an electro disco-dance anthem that marks Natalie's return in the Kylie territory for a couple of more tracks. The song is all surrounded by synthé layers a la Giorgio Moroder and it is another winner.
But Supersensual is the real jewel on there and said to be the fourth single from the CD. Produced by Kylie long-time music & tours partner Steve Anderson (formerly of Brothers In Rhythm) and co-written with Steve Lee and backing vocalist Lisa Greene, this disco-housed anthem incorporates bits of Blondie's Heart of glass in its chorus where Natalie goes all "Oooh ooh Woah ah" and it's a ...KILLER! You can't help but singing along with her, saving your arms up in the air, moving and dancing all over the room, surrounded by the powerful and sensual energy of the song. I can't get enough of it and I'm so pleased it looks like it is gonna be a single... I wonder if it's a Kylie reject... How would X have sounded if it had been included ? Better, for sure.
After all these dancing moments, we need to rest a little and Natalie gives us her first slow track, Why do I. It is co-written and produced by Stuart Crichton and is an electronic mid-tempo that has got repetitive rhythm and hypnotical etheral vocals. Not my favourite but a nice album track.
Chris Braide and Ina Wroldsen are together back on duty for Turn the lights on, another slow song, with piano-led verses but once again with a pop-rock anthemic power chorus. It seems Miss Bassingthwaighte can't really decide if she wanted to do dance-pop or pop-rock so she chose to do it both and to alternate the tracks on the CD. Maybe a better choice than split the album into two parts that would have stand side to side (and I would have prefered one for sure).
This can't be love's marks the return into disco-dance and Kylie's shadow is once again there as it is co-written and produced by Jimmy Harry, who worked with her on her first DeConstruction album. But this time, the disco rhythm melts into power rock when the chorus attacks and I feel this song is the perfect union of what I said previously Natalie intended to do : the perfect mix between her two sources of inspiration. With its anthemic chorus and catchy melody, this one could easily fit another single format.
After Supersensual comes Superhuman, a song produced by swedish new team (The Forty4s) it seems, which they co-wrote with Karen poole, another Kylie previously song-provider. And with its moving melody and aerial vocals, this song is all poppy and breezy, like a song of summer you want to whistle along to. Except it includes some "I'm alive, I'm alive..." lines that feel strange to me when Alive is already a song and single on the album.
Near the end of CD comes the last Metrophonic production and this time Natalie didn't co-wrote it. Mark Taylor did the job with Paul Barry and Alex Smith instead, and (Never had a) Love like this sounds like it is 2000 again, when the METRO production team was all around the radios. Although I like it, I think this one is just a filler track.
The album's conclusion is the most intimate for sure as In his eyes goes all acoustic with a rhythm guitar in the shadow of Natalie's voice all along the track. Something's missing though to make it a touching moment and the album ends like that, like unfinished. There could have been a better conclusion, I feel.
Because apart that, this is a wonderful tracklisting, a quality album that is worth its importation via any australian retailer you can find, and one that I will listen to for a while for sure.

There is also an iTunes bonus track, Star, that I cannot get my hands on as my french iTunes doesn't have it ...GGrrrrr!!! I hate that national releases! so if someone can help me hear it, he'll be more than welcomed.

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