Natalie Prass has made quite the impression with her debut album, earning a spot on The Rolling Stone magazine’s top artists to watch earlier in the year. Side-by-side is an EP that manages to be both similar and different from her original first work. Most incredibly it was recorded in one single day. Consisting of only five tracks, the record is a combination of originals and covers, but all with the Natalie Prass touch and overall feel. The mixture of gospel-like organ and bluesy guitar serves as a comforting and soft background to her soothing vocals during the first song on the EP, an original off her album.
Now, covers have always been a tricky business, especially when attempting with artists like Anita Baker, Grimes, and Simon and Garfunkel. But Prass manages to pull it off, making the songs her own with the mix of her ethereal vocals and the change of pace she implements to each track. ‘REALITi’ is stripped back to incorporate jazz and folk undertones, while ‘Rapture’ is changed from a classic pop hit to accomodate lounging and easy listening. ‘Sound of Silence’ is where the real success lies, completely altering the mood of the song and putting jazz with an overlay of vocal slurs in contrast to the darkness and simplicity it is originally presented with. However impressive these changes are, the one major setback Prass does encounter is a certain sense of insincerity, despite how ingenious the changes she’s made are.
This former backup singer for Jenny Lewis has admirably defined her own brand of folk/pop and stuck to it, even when performing covers as tricky as these. Despite the slight loss in emotion and connection towards her covers of these popular hits, Prass continues to make music true to her sound, having a whole lot of fun whilst doing it.