Natalie Clark - “Freedom” ~ Gritty rock and a resplendent voice!
The last song I heard from Natalie Clark was “Late Train,” a contemplative, decidedly contemporary song with an overall melancholic tone. “Freedom” is a different beast altogether. It’s an evocative blues-rock number, charging in with a heavily saturated piano intro before bombarding the listener with heavy, 60s-influenced drums and Clark’s unmistakable voice.
“Freedom” is an expression of raw energy and emotion – not what I would have expected after “Late Train,” but a welcome departure to my tastes. The song is a foot-tapper with a powerful rhythm section supporting Clark’s soaring, bluesy vocal lines. The gritty, vintage sonics, reminiscent of post-Beatles-era 60s-70s blues-rock, is a refreshing listen in a music world still very much under the grip of hyper-produced electronically-manipulated music.
As I suggested earlier, Clark’s voice is really what makes this track shine. Her voice expresses a dynamism that I wasn’t aware of after listening to “Late Train” – clearly this is a versatile, talented vocalist. (If that wasn’t clear, her accolades – including recognition by the likes of Richard Branson and BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw – should be testament enough to her competence as a singer.) The real high point of the song is the chorus when Clark’s voice is augmented by a powerful gospel-choir-type backing vocal section emphasizing the line “Freedom”. The clarity and richness of this moment in particular are an enjoyable contrast to the less-polished (but no less enjoyable) instrumental arrangement.
Lyrically, the song is fairly sparse with a straightforward message of moving from despair (“I was broken/broken and drowning / under a tidal wave / in the sea”) to the uplifting chorus and the metaphorical “just like a seed / into a tree”. Nonetheless, the evolution of lyrical mood, paired with what can only be described as an anthemic chorus, convincingly presents a mood of breaking “free” from limitations and emerging victorious.
Channeling blues-rock as its primary stylistic influence, “Freedom” is grounded by a heavy rhythm section of piano, thundering drums, and a prominent bass line. Despite an overall lo-fi production quality (which may very well have been intentional), the song manages to get the point across in the way that artists like the Black Keys and their many imitators have done on countless blues-rock-revival records. I feel like this isn’t a bad thing at all, though – we’re still very much in a world gripped by electronically manipulated music, and the occasional foray into more organic sonics is always a welcome change. The decision to approach the production with such a lo-fi aesthetic could be seen as a risky move, but the contrast between that rawness and the clean, powerful vocals mirrors the thematic progression from chaos to liberation.
“Freedom” is a definite testament to Clark’s adaptability as an artist, especially in the wake of “Late Train.” This newest song is both nostalgic and timely, and her decision to embrace a style that really puts her vocal prowess on display more prominently makes me feel like this is a direction she should seriously consider embracing more going forward.
Listen to "Freedom" on Spotify here -
You can check out Natalie Clark’s website here:
A brilliant addition to the repertoire -