Fresh, fun, and ultra contemporary. Those are the words that best describe Natural and those are the elements that pull every song on the album and the project itself far ahead of the majority of current genre releases. This is not pleasant sonic wallpaper fading into the background, it’s an album that will grab your attention and make you want to move. Natural is Bradley’s 4th album for Trippin N Rhythm records and her first time teaming up with veteran producer/multi instrumentalist David Mann. He brings a different vibe to the project that enhances Bradley’s musicianship and songwriting skills without trying to change the essence of what she does. Chris Standring, Nick Colionne, and hot newcomers the JT Project also brought their production, songwriting, and musical skills to the party. This all adds up to a multifaceted collection of songs that will catch your ears and your imagination.
Bradley knows how to write a hook, and her gift for mixing edgy sonic nuance with tight melodic playing has always been evident but it stands out even more on this set. Listen to what she does on one of the album’s highlights, “She Bop,” which is an original, not a cover of that song by another Cindy. This song mashes up 21st century electro chill, DJ scratching, and trumpet sounds straight out of one of those crazed 1920s Disney cartoons then segues into a pure cjazz melody line before it time shifts again. Pure originality. She totally goes off in the middle of “Clean Break,” – the collaboration with JT Project that shares the same energized momentum that made their most recent album so exciting – kicking it up during a hard funk break then bringing back the core melody to wrap up the song. Same thing with the deeply funky title track – she gets to groove on trumpet then makes way for a tasty solo from Standring then a little playoff between the two. “Girl Talk”, the opening track makes a big statement with her and friend/partner in crime saxophonist Paula Atherton jamming hard in deep funk paradise. And oh, the ballads! “Bring it Back” with Colionne is dreamy gorgeous, “Everyone But You,” is moody and moving with this Latin underpinning that takes it to an entirely different space. “Vibralux” has parts that remind me of mid 90s Braun and this is a good thing – Beat Street is one of my all time faves – so whether this influence was intentional or not it creates an electro-chill vibe that gives her a jumping off point for some hot trumpet licks and a joyous horn driven chorus.
The thing about Natural is this undercurrent of joy that you can feel when you listen to it. The musicians are playing from their hearts, the songs are fabulously crafted and even the ballads sound celebratory. The whole thing just makes you feel good. Eleven songs without a single “skip me” track. And the album wraps up with a song she wrote for her rescue Lab, the irrepressible, attention seeking Coco Chanel. How could anyone resist an ending like that. Buy it, you’ll love every song on it. And follow her on Facebook where she shares videos of her menagerie and what may be the world’s most hilarious boyfriend. Joyous. Yes it is and you can feel it in the music