If you were to look at the cover album of Natalie Douglas’ ‘Human Heart,’ you could probably conclude that Douglas was one of those singers with a scream-y shout-y black woman sassy voice. And while she seems to be a woman and sassy, the other parts of that statements do not apply to her. Douglas has one of those tender voices that caress songs, and in her album ‘Human Heart’ that tenderness is in full bloom.
I actually discovered Douglas a long time ago. I was at Footlight Records store (remember record stores?) and they were playing her and it was one of those “who is that singing” moments, and I remember buying her disc immediately. Here we are now, more than a decade and a half later, and her record is again amazing me.
She has the most eclectic taste in her selection, with everything from Nina Simone to Abbey Lincoln to show tunes. The title track, ‘Human Heart’ is one of my favorite songs from the musical ‘Once On This Island’ and her interpretation brings out the message of the lyrics forcefully – it’s feel-better anthem in full display. Douglas is big on messages, even if it’s the relentless optimism of ‘The Best Is Yet To Come,’ or the brittle strength of ‘I Hold No grudge.’ This is one of those albums that is multi-layered. You think you have heard it all but then a song comes up, like Kurt Weill’s ‘It Never Was You,’ and you are suddenly entranced again. Let’s give this a million stars.