POP RESCUE: ‘So Natural’ by Lisa Stansfield (CD, 1993)


Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1993 Lisa Stansfield album So Natural.

I admit, that I had this 13 track album on cassette when it was new, but over the years, that tape has vanished somewhere, so this is my first listen to this album in a long time. During that time, Lisa’s prominence in our charts has all but gone.

The album opens with the title track, and second single, So Natural. Her breathy, soulful vocals, usher in this gentle ballad, and it is a perfect showcase of her rich vocals, and a great continuation to the brilliant Real Love album that preceded it two years earlier.

Next up is Never Set Me Free, which opens with a sultry, breathy plea from Lisa ‘Can you forgive me for what I’ve done?‘. This is a lovely track. The beat, the piano, and her rich vocals make light work of this song. I think I’d forgive you for everything in an instant, Lisa.

Third track is I Give You Everything, which is a nice relaxing tender track. Again, Lisa’s vocals shine here, alongside the gentle beat.

Marvellous & Mine starts with a funky bassline, and is much more up-beat than what we’ve heard so far, but the chorus isn’t as catchy as I was hoping it would be. That said, it’s definitely a grower.

This is followed by Goodbye which feels like an Eternal album track, in which Easther and Vernie take control. The tinkling piano and bassline carry Lisa through to the end, but there’s not a great amount of new or exciting ground trodden here, but it is perfectly mellow.

This gives way to third and final single from this album, Little Bit Of Heaven, which is much more up-beat and pop. There’s some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus, with some funky brass sections and disco ‘pops’. This song would sit perfectly pitched in battle against similarly paced (and sax-heavy) M People songs of the same period.

Next up is Sweet Memories, which feels like a companion to So Natural, or some of the tracks on Real Love again. It’s warm, with piano, breathy vocals, soft beat, and a flourish of strings. Lisa’s vocals delicately and effortlessly skip around the song.

This is followed by She’s Always There, which is a really nice soulful number, including  a great choral, finger click section just after 3mins in. The song really allows Lisa to showcase that soulful Mancunian voice.

In a similar style as Little Bit Of Heaven, it’s the up-beat pop number Too Much Love Makin’, which again feels like it could easily battle a 1993 M People track. Sadly, with it’s pop brass and beats, this didn’t make it as a single, and instead sits here as the ninth track.

Turn Me On is up next, and this is quite a harder but funky track. There’s lots of guitar, beats, and brass here, with more breathy vocals.

Funky guitar and backing vocals usher in the slinky eleventh track Be Mine. This is a really nice track, but it doesn’t particularly stand out amongst the rest of the album tracks.

Penultimate track In All The Right Places was the lead single from this album – a song that was used in the hit 1993 film Indecent Proposal, and for which James Bond composer John Barry wrote the music. Lisa then wrote the lyrics for it. However, this version is much more up-beat, whereas the single relied on the synth/strings and Lisa’s vocals. This doesn’t detract, it’s just interesting to hear the slightly different version here.

The album closes with Wish It Could Always Be This Way, which like some of the earlier gentle, mellow tracks, this fits right in. I can’t remember whether this song was also on the cassette, but I kind of think that In All The Right Places would have been a good place to end the album, shifting this song further in to the track listing.

There’s no denying that Lisa Stansfield’s voice and writing ability is fantastic, but this album is very mellow, and at times it feels like a continuation of the mellow bits of her previous album.

That’s by no means a criticism – as it is the perfect companion when you’re curled up on the sofa for a late night glass of wine. It’s a very warm welcomed return to my music collection.

Where is Lisa Stansfield now?

Lisa Stansfield has continued to write, record, release and tour her music. After So Natural, she has released four further albums and a greatest hits. Her most recent studio album, her seventh, was released in early 2014 and aptly titled Seven. She supported its release with a UK and European tour.

Lisa has also forged a moderately successful TV and film career, beginning with 1999’s Swing, including season 3 of 2007’s Agatha Christie’s Marple, and most recently in 2014, Northern Soul.

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1993 UK CHART POSITION: #6, certified Platinum.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.

 

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