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Natalie Estes - 20/20 Vision (2017)

Written by Robert Elgin, posted by blog admin

The EP 20/20 vision from Nashville born Natalie Estes is a four song collection marking the emergence of a musical and vocal talent nearly unparalleled in recent history. This young lady has emerged from near obscurity to create a work that touches on a variety of bases while still maintaining the necessary consistent to ensure that listeners keep coming back for more. It’s all the more remarkable of a release considering that Estes, initially, seemed on a different path. Her time as a dancer likely influences her intuitive sense of what her performances require for maximum success, but she pushes the bar further than that with her evocative and often dramatic phrasing that never robs the spotlight from the instrumentalists. There is no predominant musical force on 20/20 Vision. Instead, everything seems geared to frame her voice in the best possible way and works splendidly towards serving that end.

“Until I Do” begins the EP on a strong high note.  This is a heated, but appropriately understated, piece that has perfectly orchestrated dramatic flow. Estes tailors her voice to the rising and falling of the music with a sure, confident touch and her emotive phrasing helps bring to life a relatively familiar lyric in a new, refreshing way. It’s musically dependant on piano and percussion, but the former manifests as much percussive quality as any of the song’s drumming. “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” manifests a different aspect of her sound – this is top shelf pop, but never goes in for pandering and, instead, strikes a big band note with strong shades of R&B bleeding through. The production helps bring this number to even more robust life – it practically leaps out of the speakers and shows great, across the board balance.

“Reminds Me of You” is cut from a little more a traditional cloth than the earlier numbers  and certainly has a gentler musical slant. Estes manifests the same gentleness with her vocal, but there’s still much here that speaks to her individual talents and reshapes familiar forms into something new. There’s a nice edge to her voice on this tune that definitely prevents it from ever slipping into traditionally sophomoric pop balladry. “Bad Game” closes 20/20 Vision with a lot of verve and has that same finesse characterizing much of the EP, but a sharper tempo that concludes 20/20 Vision on a decidedly uptempo note. It’s a great finale to a brief collection that, despite its short length, shows impressive maturity and artistic development. Natalie Estes hits it out of the park with 20/20 Vision and sets the table nicely for her future.

Grade: A


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