A Fresher Breath of Air: Natalia M. King’s “Bluezzin ‘Til Dawn” (Challenge, 2016)
Like a lot of the best material that comes my way, this delightful recording arrived completely unsolicited and with minimal fanfare. Ms. King is a guitarist and singer/songwriter in possession of an increasingly uncommon talent. She can channel the elders and show reverence to her roots while being incredibly topical and innovative at the same time. Where some seem content for a phone-in (see review of Curtis Stigers’ One More for the Road), King is here to prove something.
“Don’t Explain” has certainly been trod upon, but she reveals a side to this Billie Holiday weeper that reveals new dimensions. To wax about the other two covers in this short space would do a disservice to her songwriting, even though they’re great as well.
There are seven originals and they each make her impossible to pigeonhole and compartmentalize. Lots of modern singers are making that their mission, but with Bluezzin ‘Til Dawn, the effort somehow seems less conspicuous. “Insatiable” and “Paint It Black and Blue” are tempests in a teapot. That may be an apt description of what’s to come in the career arc of Natalia M. King. Let’s hope so; she wowed me with her grace.