Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2015 So Far

12. Natalie Prass
Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass is hardly new to songwriting, but it wasn't until this year that the 29-year-old Richmond, VA-raised, Nashville, TN-based singer finally delivered her self-titled debut album. Having cut her teeth with a pair of fairly under-the-radar EPs and a stint as Jenny Lewis's keyboard player, Prass paired up with her childhood pal and producer Matthew E. White to make the record, and the result is mesmerizing.

Natalie Prass presents a baroque pop paradox, offering listeners saccharine, breezy and romantic-sounding songs that, upon further listening, actually serve better as a biting soundtrack to the pitfalls of love. Gorgeous, delicate-sounding numbers like "My Baby Don't Understand Me Anymore" and "Your Fool" actually document the dissolution of relationships, while "Christy" is an ambitious, orchestral ode to betrayal.

The album does end on an optimistic, genuinely romantic note, however, with sugary, starry-eyed ballad "It Is You" wrapping up a stellar debut offering with some serious Disney princess vibes. And even if the syrupy sound is for the most part a mask, Natalie Prass is a delight to listen to from start to finish.
Sarah Murphy