It’s clear from Natalie Walker’s solo debut, Urban Angel, that she can work a ballad. With weightless, sultry vocals, she establishes a mood and stays with it. Her songs are as earnest as Sarah McLaughlin’s, but hipper. She creates an ambience, but isn’t as vibe heavy as Portishead or Mono; she’s somewhere in between. Walker has star quality that more than makes up for material that’s good but not that deep. All the tracks are a bit dreamy. Walker’s floaty, fragile vocals work best with warm and cozy tracks like â€šÃ„ÃºFaithâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the opener, â€šÃ„ÃºUrban Angel,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a love note to NYC. The lyrics are not awe-inspiring (â€šÃ„ÃºShe holds us in and wraps us in her chillâ€šÃ„Ã¹), but the words sound so lovely that they feel like they are. Walker tends to sound a lot like English singer Sia (best known for her breathy hit â€šÃ„ÃºBreathe Meâ€šÃ„Ã¹), not just her in her vocal style, but the orchestration of the songs and overall sound. Like Sia, she has the ability to draw the listener in.
There are moments when real emotion comes out and it’s moving. It’s in â€šÃ„ÃºQuicksandâ€šÃ„Ã¹ with lyrics such as, â€šÃ„ÃºI must have been so stupidâ€šÃ„Â¶ /How many times can my heart break?â€šÃ„Ã¹ In the melancholy â€šÃ„ÃºSancken’s Doll,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a song where Walker says goodbye to someone close to her, she sings, â€šÃ„ÃºYou are far too much beauty for this world/The sky prefers you so you can soar.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Natalie Walker may be young, but she sounds like an old soul. Time and life experience may make her even more interesting, but for now she’s got great musical instincts and charisma that make her really engaging. She makes Urban Angel worth listening to.