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Natty - Man Like I

Natty, Man Like I

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

HOT off the success of his breakthrough hit July, Natty now delivers his debut album in the form of the engaging Man Like I, a chilled out collection of reggae, indie and soul that’s inspired by the singer’s London upbringing.

Natty himself, a former indie-band engineer who built a following at open mic nights, says of his music that it’s “a collection of real stories but with a social commentary”. Musically, though, it sits comfortably in the chilled reggae territory reserved for the likes of Bob Marley, as well as the laidback acoustic sound of Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label.

July sets the tone, emerging as a happy reflection on a formative month in Natty’s upbringing, complete with “dreaming of beaches, dreaming of women in skimpy bikinis”. It’s an effortless crowdpleaser that has deservedly become a feelgood anthem for this particular summer.

Cold Town, another former single, also benefits from a catchy chorus and some nice reggae-infused rhythm, whilst offering some telling social observations that take in everything from needing to beat the 9 to 5 and hoodie culture.

If there’s a criticism, it’s that Natty’s sound quickly becomes familiar and doesn’t really seek to cross many genres. He’s content to focus on what he does best. But fortunately, his music remains infectious enough to remain the right side of endearing.

Songs like Stoned On You and She Loves Me are nicely romantic, and offer a nice change to some of the more hard-hitting commentaries being offered by London’s young music scene, while the easygoing nature of the album is also epitomised by the likes of Bedroom Eyes and Say Bye Bye.

When he wants to, though, Natty is capable of delivering something a little more thought-provoking in his lyrics. Revolution is a tender acoustic song that offers a fascinating slice of introspection and which drops the memorable final two lines, “standing before me is the shadow of a man who dreamed a revolution. I dreamed of a revolution”.

While Burn Down This Place contains some incendiary observations and Coloured Souls, “the parent song” for the album that Natty believes enabled him to find his voice. “It’s a song for my generation saying we can’t let our situation, the media or these ‘black and white towns’ determine who we are,” says Natty.

It’s moments such as those, coupled with the sunshine pop of records like July, that make Natty such a welcome new addition to London’s music scene. So, while the album won’t break any boundaries, it does offer a really good listen.

Download picks: July, Coloured Souls, Stoned On You, Burn Down This Place, Revolution, Say Bye Bye.

Track listing:

  1. July
  2. Cold Town
  3. Stoned On You
  4. She Loves Me
  5. Revolution
  6. Badman
  7. Burn Down This Place
  8. Hey Man
  9. Bedroom Eyes
  10. Last Night
  11. Coloured Souls
  12. Say Bye Bye