Natasha Bedingfield – “Roll With Me”
It’s been eleven years since her last full long play studio album (“Love Like This”) but after a couple of recent tasters and some one-off single releases and remixes, Daniel’s younger sis is back with a stonking new album! “Roll With Me” ‘kicks off’ with the two most recently released tracks, the R’n’B tinged “Roller Skate” and the groovy, smoothie that is “Kick It”. Both tracks are quite different from one another so it makes guessing what a new Natasha album will actually be like and sound like. For me, “Kick It” is the far superior track of the two. It’s catchy and it has been spinning here over and over ever since it was released.
“Everybody Come Together” is different again, yet irrefutably mature and seasoned with spice and sparkle. The song features US singer Angel Haze. Both provide crystal clear and gorgeous vocals for the down tempo tune that has been released as the third album teaser track in conjunction with “Roll With Me”. “Hey Papa” is a slice of Summer pop groove that is once again, different and reaches out to a completely different audience to anything Natasha has produced before. This album is becoming more and more reggae in style and execution. “King Of The World” goes deeper into that territory as Natasha moves and grooves with luscious vibes and an assured confidence in herself and her music.
“It Could Be Love” takes things back to R’n’B-pop territory with its angelic chorus whilst the next song “Where We Going Now?” is the most down tempo number yet, heading into ballad territory, Natasha takes us on an emotional rollercoaster with lines like “I feel happy and I wanna feel good” are sung with passion and power. Without any need for over the top production, this is certainly an album standout. The mood is carried on with “Can’t Look Away” with yet more powerful and sublime vocals. Time for a change. “Can’t Let Go” takes Natasha into the 60’s with a delightful deity that bares more than a resemblance to something Duffy would of churned out ten years ago. This will make you swing and sway your arms for the rest of the Summer and beyond!
“No Man I See” is another vibrant pop number with a twist of gospel and R’n’B for added pleasure. The chorus is one of those annoyingly repetitive one which for one makes you take note of the songs’s title as well and singing along with Natasha herself. “Sweet Nothing” is full of promise. “One day you gonna be my lover, one day I’m gonna make you mine” sings Natasha with lustful intention. This is more 60’s-esque, Duffy-ish “Can’t Let Go” magic with a superb drum accompaniment and an almost big-band feel to it. Natasha does swear a little, but if you don’t mind that, then you’ll love this track just like I do! “I Feel You” takes the tone down again this time with sexual electricity in both music and Natasha’s yearning. “Hold me on the edge” she pleads “so I can be free in my soul”. That’s why. Incredible.
“Wishful Thinking” is more power gospel/R’n’B themes with yet more outstanding vocals and a stripped back musical soundtrack – Natasha clearly now fancies herself as a 21st century Tina Turner – she can certainly belt out those high notes and make the music come alive. The album closes with “Real Love”, more 60’s bouncy pop – “don’t you wanna feel it?”. This track is a perfect finale – “I’m talking about real love(!)” – you just wanna shimmy and twist to this number and generally just unwind. You can do that for sure with this and so many other tracks on “Roll With Me”! There are four other tracks on this album, acoustic versions of “Kick It”, “Roller Skate”, “Hey Papa” and “King Of The World” which are mostly about Natasha showcasing her vocals with the bare minimum of anything additional to get in her way.
I wouldn’t call this a return to form for Natasha, but anyone expecting her mega hit style of “Unwritten” or “These Words” would be at a loss with this album. It’s grown up, it’s wholesome and it’s definitely nothing like we’ve heard from Miss Bedingfield before. There is an eclectic mix of styles and themes going on here that could almost be at odds with each other on any other album, but the gospel tinge, mixed with a reggae feel and some serious 60’s grooves somehow really gel on this album. Feel alive and feel moved by each and every track on “Roll With Me” but most of all, celebrate the return of Natasha Bedingfield, her superb and unique vocal ability for all it’s worth and her capacity to write a damn fine song. It’s been a long time coming and it could be some time before we get another one!