Natasha Gray
Jeneyus Productions (2014)

By Bob Marovich

Natasha Gray’s debut album, Born, is what I would term “progressive gospel.” Somewhat like a portion of Zi’el’s recent project, Pronounced ZY-EL, Born wraps inspirational songs in ambient soundscapes of electronica and beat with occasional rock flourishes.

Gray (Natasha Simmons) has a simmering voice, at times sensuous, and she is nothing if not consistently deliberate in lyric delivery. She sings her prettiest on “Make Me Over,” an a cappella song of personal conversion. She delivers her most powerful vocals on the album’s lead single, “Just Know God Cares.”  The latter song demonstrates her apprenticeship as lead singer for the North Carolina Mass Choir and background work for the likes of Shirley Murdock and Natalie Wilson.

Most of the songs, however, could be described as sacred tone poems, because they are snatches of thoughts and prayers set to meditative, wandering, atmospheric melodies. On the other hand, the stinging rock guitar riffs, blistering drumming, and complex chord changes of “Talk To Me” are flashbacks of 1970s prog rock. “Liquid Prayers” and “Mirror Mirror” have the most radio potential because of their approachable melodies.

Born benefits from Natasha Gray’s intriguing vocals, crisp production by Rodrick Cliche, and fine musicianship, but it could have used more songs Gray could sink her teeth into. For all their aural allure—they are likely to resonate with a younger demographic for that reason—the soundscapes simply do not give her talent the showcase it deserves.

Three of Five Stars

Pick: “Just Know God Cares”

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.