Full disclosure; when musical theatre actors release albums and fill them with original songs, I sometimes roll my eyes. I like musical theatre performers to release albums of musical theatre songs. So when Natasha Barnes‘s album REAL fell through the letterbox, I scanned the track listing and was disappointed that the only musical theatre song included was ‘People’ from Funny Girl (the show she hit headlines for in 2016, when she had an extensive run playing Fanny Brice in the West End when Sheridan Smith had to take a leave of absence).
However, within thirty seconds of pressing play, my frown was turned upside down and I fell in love with what I was hearing and finally found something I could listen to repeatedly (whilst trying to limit the amount of times I listen to The Greatest Showman every day).
It is hard not to make comparisons to other artists when reviewing albums like this. Inspired by Northern soul and her love of trawling through vintage record stores, the album has real moments of swinging sixties Dusty Springfield and more current artists like Duffy and Gabrielle. However, Natasha’s sound is very unique and it is really unfair to try to make comparisons here.
The songs on the album have been written by various composers, with Paul O’Duffy making up the bulk of the song writing credits whilst X Factor runner up Rebecca Ferguson puts her name to the music for the first single off of the album ‘Supermodel’.
By the time the album came to a close, I wasn’t listening to Natasha Barnes the Musical Theatre performer, I was listening to Natasha Barnes the recording artist. So I’d forgotten that ‘People’ from Funny Girl the Musical was coming on. And it has been reworked and stripped back to the point where I didn’t realise that I knew the song until half way through. It’s a lovely interpretation.
Natasha Barnes may not consider herself a supermodel but this album shows she is a REAL superstar and this could be the beginning of a very successful recording career for her.