Album Review: Natalie Cressman jazzes it up on Turn The Sea

Natalie Cressman’s Turn The Sea opens boldly with the title track and an intro featuring a riff championed by the bass and keyboards. Horns enter with gumption, playing an arrangement that perfectly fits the song. Cressman’s sultry jazz vocals seem to rhythmically play with the band’s accents and swells. Natalie’s harmonies provide an airy dissonance that one comes to expect in a jazz/fusion track.

The album transitions into “Fortune’s Fool”, a more R&B inspired track with heavy kick drum beat emphasis. The backing band offers many distinct instrumental layers that complement Cressman’s vocals. The track comes to a close with an inspiring ascending vocal line that is matched by the band.

“Do Not As I Do” offers a departure from the rest of the album. The bass introduction creates a surprising tension. The track segues into a wondrous electric guitar solo. The bass clarinet additions during the solo really set this track apart. The vocal chorus hits hard and strong. It’s amazing how Natalie’s vocals can take the words “Do Not As I Do” and make them sound sweet and positive.

“Checkout Time” is a true testament to Natalie’s vocal prowess. She holds down the whole track without any percussion or substantial backing instrumentals. The keyboards, bass and guitar serve to add subtle licks and lines that elevate Natalie’s precision vocals. I also really appreciate the orchestration and production on this track. The different vocal parts and harmonies seemed to be pieced together strategically to evoke emotions in the listener. The atmosphere that Natalie creates in this song is truly incredible.

Finally, “Stolen Away” sends the listener off on a solid upbeat note. This track is an amalgamation of the different styles presented throughout the album. The track goes through many different sections and ends with an in-your-face funk jam. This track gives the listener the best overall sense of what Natalie Cressman and her band are all about.

As a whole, Turn the Sea demonstrates an awesome blend of jazz, fusion, funk, and R&B. Natalie and her band are an unbelievably talented group of musicians that crafted a jazz album that entertains from start to finish.

Key Tracks: Turn the Sea, Fortune’s Fool, Checkout Time, Stolen Away