EARNEST EFFORT: Natel sings of love and longing on new mixtape.
The reggae industry has no shortage of fast-rising princes jostling to become the next King Beres. Hard workers like Chris Martin and Romain Virgo come readily to mind. But there’s something decidedly unique about fellow Rising Stars graduate Natel, who is that rare commodity: a madly talented singer who somehow retains his boy-next-door appeal even when crooning seductive lines to his women listeners. What's more, he straddles that fine line between R&B and reggae with ease, or so it seems.
That combination of youth, raw talent and sincerity can make listeners of Natel’s new mixtape, Miles Away (recently released in time for Valentine’s Day), feel as though they’ve been invited to partake in an exercise marked by frequently intimate misadventures. But the mixtape’s smattering of acoustic minimalism and delicate vocals make for a totally worthwhile experience despite the occasional lowlights. What Natel does extremely well is bare his feelings with songs that find him enamoured with a girl, discovering her deception, and longing for someone who brings trust and genuineness.
All in all, these 14 tracks (some drenched in sentimentality) are nicely orchestrated salutes to romance and catharsis, the peaks and valleys of relationships. Highlights include the tender duet “You Turn Me On” (with Cherine); the lullaby-esque opener “I Love You Love”; and “Do You,” where the singer trades a no-good chick for the real thing. “I’m gonna change those locks on my door,” the he croons in his sturdy tenor. Konshens lends support on “The Boss,” aimed at the independent ladies.
If anything, Miles Away proves that beneath Natel’s unassuming veneer lurks a rigorous technique and a capacity of impressive lyricism. Women and love may be a complicated pair, but here Natel tackles them with impressive stamina. Tyrone’s Verdict: B