It's just not fair: Natasha Meister is not only an exquisite blues guitarist with an excellent voice to match, but she's beautiful and young. So, where's the catch? Well, she's sponsored by Fender, has played alongside legendary Jimmy Thomas and Robert Lockworth Jnr in Dubai - and did so without even releasing an album. So what promising future lies ahead now that she has? And, let's ask again shall we: Where's the catch?
In a 2010 interview a coy, yet sassy, 19-year-old Natasha confirmed working on an album with bassist, and Keith Richards' tall lookalike, Roger Bashew and drummer Paul Tizzard. So, no doubt, her debut album "Half Way" is a precocious effort. However, in said interview, Natasha stated: "I'm holding onto my blues roots, but incorporating a little pop, country and rock, to really make it sell." And went further to explain: "All areas are important to work on - and you'll find what works for you. I can't say I've found that balance yet."
Selling from the heart
And here lies the catch: she's found a balance that sells - which is all fair and well, if you're a budding young entrepreneur. Perhaps this, once again, highlights a truth we've been avoiding for a long time that nowadays musicians have to call shots previously done by label execs. In retrospect, she could have lied and just told us she's making an album from the heart.
Not that she isn't, this is the blues after all. But what blues exactly? Well, the blues you'd expect from a 21-year-old female, with added pop and country rock. She's often been compared to John Mayer - which should be viewed as a compliment to Mayer, not Natasha - a closer listen, especially This Desire (track 5), suggests Amy Winehouse. That is if Amy took better, healthy, legal drugs. Like Cal-C-Vita, and played guitar.
I understand the need to write optimistic songs concerned with life and love, and she might not have "earned the right to sing the blues", but it's a hard act to follow when the jive isn't lekker loose, not just merely unwound (or dare I say, not black?). If Natasha ever needed a "unique selling proposition" she need not look further than the mirror. And realise what awarded darlings of the dazzling 1920s with hordes of men at their feet and, because of that, for eternity it will seem impossible for any man to make an impression.*
"Half Way" goes most of the way
I can't help but feel that her much older band mates, and most of those she's played alongside, view her as the exemplary daughter they need to nurture and protect. Rather than an elusive rare find, that can give way to a religious experience. Instead, she often comes across like the voice singing over the ending credits of romantic-comedy rated PG.
But being who she is, "Half Way" will go places. Just not sure if it will be those hard-to-reach places we often look for in our hearts, that only a certain track can grant us access to - an irritating exercise to find, that seems to worsen every time I scan endless playlists of radio-friendly pop songs, which could have owned my all instead of my time and money. And that my dearest Natasha, is the biggest unfairness of all.
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