Natural Disaster (Bethany Cosentino) – music review

After over a decade and 4 full-length studio albums with Best Coast – her band with multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno – Bethany Cosentino has stepped away to create her solo debut, Natural Disaster. Given her previous ventures in power pop/alt rock with excursions into surf rock and country, her solo work here, supported by Nashville producer Butch Walker, feels like a natural evolution that leans toward mature adult pop/rock and Americana with a solid, polished Laurel Canyon/LA singer-songwriter influence.

In the kicking pop of the album’s opening title track, Cosentino manages toss out a smart literary reference (“this is the summer of our discontent”), while using global warming (“this is the hottest summer I can ever remember, cause the world is on fire”) as a metaphor for either the dissolving of a relationship or the impending cultural apocalypse, which ever comes first. Of course, it could all be downhill from there, but Costentino’s not only blessed with a strong compelling vocal instrument, but she can turn a clever phrase that elevates a catchy pop song melody into something that you won’t be embarrassed singing along to the next time it comes around. The next two, “Outta Time” and “It’s Fine,” lean hard in the direction of Sheryl Crow territory, but with a spirit and attitude that’s all her own, as she sings on the latter track, “I am evolved, you’ve stayed the same.”

In the piano ballad, “Easy,” which she manages to rhyme with “I hate to sound cliché and cheesy” at the very same time that she’s touching on too many familiar turns of phrase, while coming to terms with reaching that point in her life where she’s old enough to want to avoid repeating teenage level mistakes. And, there are a couple things here that feel like songwriting exercises about “Real Life,” and how “It’s a Journey,” But the fun, girl-group rocker feel of “In My Own City,” gives Walker a chance to bring out the rock guitars, and let the backing band have some fun.

Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, Cosentino sings with real passion, and she does have a fine, fine voice; with a couple killer singles and a solid display of craft and talent throughout, Cosentino’s making a solid case for her life as a solo artist who can stand up with the best of them.

Brian Q. Newcomb
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