It’s neither a remake of the film starring Bette Davis, nor a documentary on the tragic destiny of an American singer exiled in France, and yet this story could be called ‘ What happened to Natalia M. King?’
The story of a pioneering musician with a powerful impact, and a captivating voice who on her sixth album enters, for the first time, the ancient territory, almost sacred, of blues, rhythm and blues and American ‘roots’ music. And ultimately, that marvellous feeling of rediscovery through nine tracks, all either composed by her or borrowed from others, of that magical style unaffected by the wear and tear of time. With that neither flashy nor outmoded sound patina, carefully orchestrated by guitarist and producer, Fabien Squillante, ‘Woman Mind Of My Own ‘ is no exercise in style or retromania. It is, on the contrary, very much a contemporary oeuvre, an holistic record that doesn’t stop celebrating Love with a capital L, as in ‘Sunset To Sunrise’ or ‘Play On’, ever seducing like a magic potion; not just a self portrait of an incredibly intense artist, who has always presented herself exactly as she is, no frills attached, as the title track claims, but portraying a larger than life lady with all the courage necessary to assume. Thus, ‘Aka Chosen’ is the scene of a spiriting ‘coming out’ and the mountain from whence a hymn is sung to all nations.
At the beginning of the years 2000, an on the verge of being discovered wild child busking in the Paris metro trying to earn a few bucks with her voice and guitar, Natalia was fiercely determined to find and create her own and unique style, taking on the rest of the world. Two missiles were launched, ‘Milagro’ and the aptly named, ‘Fury & Sound’. Two explosions, two electric shocks, two painful, and almost tortuous, ways to give birth to her unique sound.
Refusing any attachments, and avoiding being trapped or labelled under any particular style, she developed a thorny free-style rock, somewhere between the lyricism of Jeff Buckley and the formal radicalism of Ornette Coleman.
Surprisingly, ten years later, she’s on the trail of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone (the 2014 and 2016 albums Soul Blaze and Bluezzin T’il Dawn). Today it’s the turn of Etta James and Robert Johnson where she’s finding her fulfilment in ‘Woman Mind Of My Own’. And so, yes, what did happen to Natalia M. King?