The reinvention of Natalie Prass this year has been quite something. She was already a songwriter of note, but the adoption of funk seems to have elevated her into a lithe, confident performer that takes ownership of The Future and The Past.
While it’s easy to admit the Purple influence here, it’s certainly just a whiff as opposed to pastiche. Prass sounds fresher than before, certainly on Short Court Style (arguably one of the songs of the year), and her assessment of the political on Oh My with quiet urgency is the sort of pleasant surprise a lot of artists tend to sidestep.
Sonically, it’s a canny decision to take on board so much extra groove. Preaching is never an option for Prass, opting instead to focus on reeling listeners in with slinky, seductive melodies and production before her message being gently relayed. Ain’t Nobody is a low-key motivational protest song, wrapped around light squelches of guitar; the warm arrangement and jazz inflection of Ship Go Down are a delightful sleight-of-hand for a much more serious discussion about disenfranchisement.
In that sense, The Future and The Past is a delicate but necessary bridge for Natalie Prass. It’s clear she’s still holding on to some of her own feelings with songs that discuss relationships, but her mind is also fervently set on the future. The sheer beauty of an introspective ballad like Lost, for example, is balanced with Sisters, a song about intersectional feminism that few could pull off, let alone with such drive. That ability to look outward while addressing the personal is what makes this record so special, and its guise of supremely tight tunes the perfect packaging for all that it has to address.