It has been three years since Virginian singer-songwriter Natalie Prass emerged with her self-titled debut, a collection of quirky, 60s-inspired folk.
As she returns in Glasgow this evening in advance of her upcoming second record, The Future & The Past, there have been hints of a shift in style to more outright, unashamed pop.
The barely-covered backstage area at Mono exposes the beautiful pre-show ritual of Prass and her band, jovially dancing as they ready themselves to go onstage.
It is perhaps just as well they are suitably warmed up as Prass’ newfound style provokes dancing by its very nature.
Energetic opener ‘Oh My’ incorporates elements of funk and soul, while ‘Never Too Late’ features dreamy psychedelic synth.
Early airings of fan favourites ‘Your Fool’ and ‘Bird Of Prey’ are bolstered to suit the new direction and are all the better for it, sounding as fresh as they ever have done.
The lyrical content of Prass’ newer material is a reaction to the undercurrent of misogyny that flows through the political spectrum of her home nation.
Recent single ‘Sisters’ is the most prominent, and when performed tonight, is a defiant celebration of feminism, with the call-to-arms refrain on the empowering chorus of “keep your sisters close to you”.
An excellent ‘Why Don’t You Believe In Me’ is delivered fantastically by her talented band, providing them with the opportunity to flex their creative muscles during an extended jam.
Their leader is the real star of the show though, and Prass has become a far more confident and assured front-woman since she was last here three years ago.
An engaging performer, she body pops her way through the upbeat ‘Short Court Style’, and even when she moves behind the keys for a solo ‘Far From You’ – a touching tribute to Karen Carpenter – her presence commands the whole room.
Before closing the main set with ‘Ain’t Nobody’, Prass brings out cake and candles to wish her keyboard player happy birthday, as if the evening needed any more of a joyous feel to it.
Tonight’s show may have been a precursor for the new record, and to road-test new songs in front of an audience brimming with anticipation, but it instead feels like a celebratory victory lap.
It’s clear from the material premiered tonight that Natalie Prass’ forthcoming sophomore LP will be the defining of a true great.
Words: Graham McCusker