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SAMS CD review: Natasha Meister Band - Half Way

Although Natasha Meister seems like quite a newbie in the SA music scene, she has in fact been around the block. Playing at big fests like Splashy Fen and Synergy last year, South African music enthusiasts could not help but notice this immense Canadian-born vocal talent. And now she can also boast with her debut album, ‘Half Way’.

From the first track already, it becomes clear that Natasha’s music will be ideal to listen to after a long day at the office. The melodies are mellow and her strong voice pulls you in for an easy-listening musical journey. Her talent is raw, unpretentious and solid. No one can deny her that. You feel like you are listening to an international blues and soul songstress, such as Aretha Franklin or Etta James. It might be the Canadian roots that shimmer through, giving Natasha that musical edge above other local artists.

Singing songs epitomising some of every individual’s struggles and joys in life and love, Natasha gives a fresh take on these mostly hackneyed themes. The songs are very honest, emotive expositions of where Natasha is currently at in her life. At times the song choruses become almost irritably repetitive though. Blues lovers will know, however, that this repetitive element is simply a characteristic of the musical genre. It’s difficult to identify a favourite track on the album, but I predict that the title track, ‘Half Way’ will gain tons of support on local radio and music video charts. Other favourites are ‘Winter Storm’, ‘This Desire’ (a song about someone holding on to a relationship while the other person has already let go) and the funky blues number, ‘Good Thang’. The album ended on a somewhat blunt note, but luckily the listener is surprised with a bonus track, ending the album off on a grand note.

This album review would not be complete without making special mention of Natasha’s two fellow musicians on the album, namely Roger Bashew (bass) and Paul Tizzard (drums), also known as The Lonesharks. It would be a shame if the compositions and instruments did not match Natasha’s immense voice. Fortunately I was not disappointed. Listening to the album, I can imagine them performing in a smoky bar, where the guests are all dolled up in fancy dresses, long black gloves, neat suits and bow ties. A typical scene out of a 1950s movie.

Natasha Meister Band’s ‘Half Way’ album came at just the right time. The SA Music Scene is yearning for more of this at the moment: song-driven music with a bluesy, soulful twist. Similarly to the UK’s Adele, the essential focus remains on the music. Even the simplistic album cover and photo’s conveys this message to the listener. Well done to Natasha, fellow musicians and production team on a fantastic product. SA Music Scene gives it’s stamp of approval.


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