Music Monday, April 25th Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Mark Bowen

Review: Natalie Holman Heart of Stone EP

Music Monday, April 25th

Review: Natalie Holman Heart of Stone EP

Late last year we saw Hereford's Natalie Holman play in front of thousands of people in the city centre, this weekend we witnessed her perform in front of just a handful of people.

The earlier occasion was when she played the city's Christmas lights switch-on, the most recent a low-profile appearance at Shack Revolution's Shackoustic Sunday.

The idea is to turn up with an instrument, make your way to a corner of the Shack, and do your stuff.

Although we had been invited by Natalie to watch her play in light of her debut EP 'Heart of Stone' being released (we will get to that in a minute) we also saw an acoustic guitarist play a couple of Beatles songs, and a bongo and sax/guitar combo supported by a strong following of friends.

For those new to the game it's a cracking way to play an intimate venue with no pressure and is an ideal way to try out new material for more established acts such as Natalie. 

So kudos should go to the Shack for providing artists with the chance to play in front of an audience in a relaxed environment during a time of the week where there isn't really all that much to do.

Anyway back to that EP of Natalie's. It's 14 minutes long and has four tracks on it. Here is our track-by-track verdict:

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'Heart of Stone'. An incredibly catchy and bouncy pop number that deals with the subject of an unsatisfactory boyfriend ('I thought you had a heart of gold, it turned out to be just a heart of stone'). Fortunately, its subject is able to move on ('I don't want you back, now my life's on track') and the song is able to reach a happy conclusion ('Now that I've moved on your memory's gone). You can easily imagine hearing this song on the radio such is its amiable and bubbly nature. Quite frankly, I would be surprised if I hear many better pop songs this year and its production packs a real punch too, providing it with a contemporary sheen and rhythmic kick.

'Boy Like You'. Its chorus has a less immediate melody than 'Heart of Stone' but it proves to be a real earworm - it takes a few listens for its magic to kick in but when it does you find it getting lodged well and truly in your head. 'Boy Like You' has an appealing piano intro with some harmonising layered on top before launching into its theme of finding an ideal lover (I've waiting my whole life to find a boy like you to make things right'). Once again the production helps the song deliver its full potential.

'Better Days'. Given the other tracks on the EP 'Better Days' comes as a bit of a surprise. This acoustic track has no beats to propel it forwards but it does allow you to concentrate on the biting lyrics aimed at an unknown adversary. As couplets go ('There are some things I would like to clarify, how could you believe every single lie?) works pretty well as an opening gambit, it certainly attracts your attention. Pop music has no need to be all sweetness and light and sometimes writing a song about a bitter experience is the best way of making a negative situation resolve itself ('We've moved on to better days, let your words fade away'). IMG 2573

'Too Far'. Questions the wisdom of starting a new relationship with someone of dubious suitability ('You have got my heart beating faster, this could some kind of disaster, that I'm about to break all my rules for you, this is not the kind of thing I usually do). Another bouncy pop song, this time with more prominent electric guitar, that sounds like a hit single - if there are any radio stations out there willing to play new artists rather than the same tired old playlists. We live in hope. 

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You can hear Natalie's EP here.  

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