Nataly Dawn is kind of a house-hold face. What I mean is you’ve most likely already seen and heard her music and didn’t even know it. You may know her as one half of the duo Pomplamoose. You may know Pomplamoose from those Hyundai holiday commericals. You know, there was that “Deck the Halls” commercial, the “fa-la-la-la-la beep-beep la-la la-la” one? Am I ringing any bells? (Sorry, I had to!) Holiday cheer aside, Nataly Dawn has been making sure to stay busy. She is fresh off of a tour with Ben Folds Five. She is on the heals of a SXSW showcasing that will be followed by a headlining U.S. tour. Her Nonesuch Records label debut album, How I Knew Her dropped earlier this month and as her first “intentional” solo album it is definitely worth a listen.
Nataly Dawn’s whimsy soulful tunes are charming. Lyrically the songs carry some heavy themes but musically the songs are fairly upbeat. This is a little awkward but still makes for an enjoyable listen. The record begins in a story-telling fashion with song “Araceli” that tells about how the Gods conspired to kill off Araceli’s husband for her beauty. Much like the first song of the album the rest is very story like. From the bass heavy “Leslie” that tells about the tension between perfection and humanity to “Back to the Barracks” a soldier’s tale that adventures in major-minor shifts. Though there are plenty of story-like songs there are also some that sound like letters. Songs like “I Just Wanted You To Get Old” and the title track of the album as well.
The album doesn’t really kick off until the mid-way point is reached. That’s where the fun tracks of the album can be found. From the boppy “Still a Believer” that includes an organ and horn section to “Even Steven” a rockabilly-esque kiss off tune. However, the last two tracks return to the delicate guitar plucking tunes that graced the beginning of the album.
Overall, How I Knew Her is very well done. It manages to showcase how versatile Nataly Dawn’s voice and music can be as it has songs that are both beautifully simple and elegantly structured. The range her voice reaches throughout the album is equally as impressive. Though to fully enjoy I think it is very important to disconnect her from Pomplamoose when listening to this record. Not because one is better than the other but because they’re different. Hopefully this is the first of many solo projects for Dawn. As a first “intentional” solo album and a successfully backed KickStarter project this is an album that both Dawn and her fans can be proud of.