In Divisive Times, Eclectic Songwriter Natalie Jean Calls for More Compassion in New LP “Where Do We Go From Here?”
How about stepping up? Like, big-time.
At the recent Grammy Awards event in Los Angeles, singer/songwriter Natalie Jean shone in a brightly bold, yellow evening gown because she wanted to look distinct and, indeed, people loved her dynamic choice, suggesting, “Girl, you are so working that dress!”
Maybe multi-award winning indie artist Jean was just in an LA state of mind where people naturally dare to be different. Maybe, her choice was inspired by the distinctive approach she also took to writing songs for her poignant, richly textured new record called “Where Do We Go From Here?”
Born into an artistically inclined American-Haitian family, with French, African, and Creole roots, Jean earned a 2019 Global Music Awards Medal and 2019 Josie Music Awards Winner. But, she similarly wanted to make a difference in her choices for this record. First, she often hears people asking, “Why don’t artists write about issues, anymore?”
Secondly, living in today’s divisive world where charity and kindness have been increasingly swamped by selfish and egocentric behavior, she initially wrote a song, “What Would You Do for Love?” which was going to be the album title. But, she sensed a conceptual record and something bigger shaping up, explaining:
“You look around and see how the world is so screwed up with so many different issues — gun violence, the hate, the lack of love for Mother Nature, and the fact that it seems that many have lost their sense of compassion. It can be depressing. At one point, I thought I’d give up music as I didn’t have the energy or desire, while watching a world that seemed to be crumbling. That was the inspiration for my new record cover — me in a black faux fur coat, fading away from a chaotic world. But, some in my very supportive indie artist network piped up that I use my music for good. So, I decided to create a message album called ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’. We’ve got all these issues, so what do we do about it?”
Sweet Jean has previously released 5 independent albums in different languages and earned over 70 various award nominations, so on this new album she’s leaned on her own DNA and eclectic musical tastes — the 15-song record is full of pop and Americana/country, with some rock and some blues thrown in.
Wanting to be a “proactive agent” for change, each of Natalie Jean’s songs addresses one of today’s issues. Of the first 10 brand new songs, she briefly suggests:
‘I Told You No’ — This is about “the moment after being raped. I thought this was very important. I wanted to convey the emotions. It is very personal to me.”
‘Heroes’ — This is about a child who should not become a hero because of gun violence. “A child should be the living the life of a child, not trying to save someone else’s life.”
‘I Am’ — This is about “racism and what people choose to see.”
‘Numb’ — Is about “gun violence and how people have become numb to the violence, to the point that it is a natural occurrence.” Sad, right?!
‘This House’ — A co-write with brilliant Michael Peloso, but mostly written by him, “it’s about the present White House and our immigration system.”
‘Tired’ — This song came about “because I looked at myself in the mirror and it focuses on everything that I am tired of in the world.”
‘Mother Earth’ — About the destruction of Mother Earth and our own demise — “Hey, we’re co-dependents here on this sphere.”
‘The Forgotten’ — About the unfortunate homeless veterans.
‘We Rise’ — A Female Empowerment song: “we get knocked down but we rise.”
‘We Kneel’ — Explains “why people are kneeling at football games and my cowriter is the awesome rapper Darick Spears.”
The next 5 songs were previously written but have been re-mastered or added to, bringing them alive in other ways:
“What Would You Do For Love?” — The powerful video for this poignant song launches with a “Separating Families not Pro-Life” sign outside a developing news story “Inside a child detention center” that refers to those human “not” cages. “This song encapsulates many hot button issues today.” (PS The song is anthemic!)
‘Hands Up’ — “This one I wrote many years ago, but re-mastered it for this album. It is about gun violence towards African Americans.”
‘You Don’t Know Me’ — “I thought this was important, because people nowadays don’t take the time to research or get to know other people.”
‘Love Your Own Power’ — “Another Female Empowerment song co-written with wonderful Mike Greenly.”
‘The Letting Go’ — “I added this one, because at the end of the day, we need to let go, come to the table and set all differences aside, and then work to really making the country great.”
This vulnerably heartfelt and powerhouse collection of songs are infused with power pop ballads (“Hands Up”), a healthy serving of Americana and country (“We Rise”), edgy rock (“This House”), and even rap vocals (“We Kneel”) with terrific musicianship everywhere — including powerful pianos (“I Told You No” & “You Don’t Know Me”), weeping slide guitars (“Heroes”), bold violin sounds (“Mother Earth”), catchy percussive beats and melodious harmonies. And, then throughout there’s Natalie Jean’s soaring, and sometimes guttural and angry pointed vocals. Very potent. But that’s what she wants, for people to reflect on these issues, and ask themselves — Where do we go from here?
With plans to tour with this new record in 2020, Natalie Jean is stepping up, really big-time, for her own part by releasing her new music on Valentine’s Day—because “it’s supposed to be a loving day and because people do need to love and be more compassionate.”
“In the name of love” reach out and sample this impassioned songwriter’s tasty new servings.