Natalie Douglas: Back to the Garden

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Natalie Douglas

Back to the Garden

(Club44 Records)

April 28, 2024

Reviewed by Betsyann Faiella

Natalie Douglas has released her first collaboration with Club44 Records, Back to the Garden, a collection of songs that reflect her many musical influences as a kid growing up in L.A. With music lovers as parents, she was exposed to the Great American Songbook and theater music as well as jazz, pop, and the artists we identify with the “canyon sound” such as Joni Mitchell. It’s from a phrase in Mitchell’s “Woodstock” that she took the title of her album.

Natalie is a superb singer, and on this recording she seems free to fly, backed by an extraordinary band and the support of the Nashville Recording Orchestra and the Prague Recording Orchestra. Joel Lindsey and Sharon Terrell served as Executive Producers, and Wayne Haun produced. Mark Hartman and Kris Crunk are listed (separately) as co-producers on two tracks along with Haun.

I mentioned the songs are varied, and indeed they come from a variety of decades and genres. Before I listened, I wondered if this set would hang together, but I shouldn’t have worried with Hartman and Haun on board. Moving from “Begin the Beguine” (Cole Porter) into “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Roberta Flack) into “Woodstock” (Mitchell) are big leaps, and it doesn’t stop there. But it all works. The arrangements and orchestrations are masterful, and this is a cohesive collection. Douglas’ singing is full of colors. She can sing the tenderest of ballads, gently caressing each phrase in “Let It Be Me” (Gilbert Bécaud/Manny Curtis), and later growl her way through “Work Song” (Nina Simone). Simone is one of Douglas’ favorite artists, and she does her proud every time she sings one of her songs. One of the tracks is a lovely, gentle anthem, “Love Is the Power That Heals Me,” written for Douglas by Haun and Lindsey,

The arrangement for “He Lives in a World of His Own” (Lionel Bart) was over the top and managed to upstage the singer, which is hard to do when that singer is Natalie Douglas. I was puzzled by this one.

Overall, this is an incredibly gorgeous recording, and it seems as though everything was staged to allow the artist to do her best work and that she did. Back to the Garden is 46 minutes of pleasure.

Betsyann Faiella

Betsyann Faiella is a creative spirit with right and left brain functionality. She is a writer and publicist, and founded SavoyPR in 2008. Her clients have been featured in major news outlets including NPR, The Today Show, Page Six, Architectural Digest, and many other major news and entertainment platforms. Her own writing has been featured in the New York Times Diner’s Journal, and her bios for creative people are all over the web. Before founding SavoyPR, she was a busy media producer working with commercial directors, leading international teams, and excelled in both the New York and Los Angeles markets with major brands including Mercedes, Exxon, Bayer, Johnson and Johnson, Old Navy. Betsyann was previously a professional singer, and made her public singing debut at famed NYC cabaret, Reno Sweeney. After touring in shows from Canada to Las Vegas and beyond, she released an album in 2001 titled Can I Be Frank?, a dedication to the artistry of Frank Sinatra. She has performed at the Blue Note, Birdland, Ronnie Scott’s, and more, and Performing Arts Centers all over the U.S. with jazz greats including the late Hank Jones, Paul Smith, and Tedd Firth.