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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Strage Fascination CD Cover
Image © Granite Music 2003

Natascha Sohl
Image © Granite Music 2003

More Natascha Sohl:
interview and photos (2008)
Dirty Little Word (2007)

(27 December 2007) Singer-songwriter Natascha Sohl was born outside of Paris and moved to the U.K at just nine months of age. She progressed through the first year of Brunel University studying Film and T.V before the need to take hold of a love of music, and the performance of it saw her crucially leave Brunel and enroll instead at The Academy Of Contemporary Music in Guilford, gaining a higher diploma in vocals. Fast forward through the initial time spent in her first band, before deciding to go it alone and being consumed in writing, recording and performing solidly, to 2004. The year that saw the release of Natascha's debut release, Strange Fascination (Granite Music (UK), 5 036098 003888, 2003). With this, we are treated to a first glance into the lyrical ideas and song-writing along with vocal abilities of Natascha, as she presents a collection of vibrant pop-rock songs fresh with the feel of an individual desperate to show everyone just what she can do.

Collaborating with a number of experienced musicians for this album, the twelve tracks on offer are played out with an assured confidence as the standard drums, guitar, bass instruments provide a solid backing to Natascha's edgy, strong vocals. Lyrically, we find Natascha covering themes ranging from love, to loss, to ambition, dreams and beyond and these lyrics certainly stand out and clearly mean a lot to this singer as she belts out each word with a real passion.

"Are You Ready?" serves as a catchy, head-nodding opener. Simplistic drum and guitar work creates an almost jazzy edge, enhanced by Natascha's enticing, alluring vocal melodies, as her voice bounces atop the instrumentation, slowing to a smoother tone set against gentle piano as she asks: "Are you ready for me? Let me show you how good I can be for you." A well chosen first single, giving you a feel for the flavour of the whole album. "Give It All Away"--clearly an album standout--presents a chunky bass line and cymbal-heavy drum work in a song that sees Natascha's vocals at their most edgy and fierce, the memorable chorus pulling together an anthemic pop number that will surely have crowds fists raised high in a live environment.

Gritty beats appear for "My Needs", chugging their way underneath piano and the alluring voice of Natascha, who strains to sing of a longing for her needs to be understood. "Missing you, missing you sometimes" she croons with a pained fragility in a touching bridge. The album progresses in a similar fashion of short, sharp bursts of pop-rock that are helped by a rich, warm production. "Another Day" features fast-paced vocals building to a distorted chorus of guitar and Natascha's hovering, aggressive vocal cries whilst "I Didn't Know" slows things down with soft drum work and clean guitar jangles, an explosive, melody-filled chorus breaking through this energetic number. Closing song "Wishful Thinking" opens with Natascha's vocals sounding distanced against drums that settle into a rapid groove, lyrically focusing on the desperate dreams of those wanting to make it big: "Do you know what you're wishing for?" A song simplistic in structure, and an ideal conclusion to the album.

Strange Fascination is an album filled with promise. Vocally, Natascha's voice is already swimming with confidence, drive and ambition as she sings of topics relevant to her own life, and certainly to the life of others who can no doubt relate. The production is impressive, and helps to breathe life to each song. The song-structures are largely of the tried and tested formula, and there is a risk of the formulaic nature creeping into the album that is it's main weakness. It's up to Natascha to stay focused and as driven as she seems to be with this debut release, and take a solid, enjoyable collection of pop-rock anthems to that next level, with her follow-up release. An engaging first insight into a lady from which you sense there is much more to come.--Jim Hall in Derby, England and Russ Elliot in New York

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