The strikingly beautiful new EP Devil Is Doubt, sees Natalie Bouloudis return with her distinctive and brooding songwriting melded with the startling versatility of her voice. Backed by her band, with which she regularly performs, the sound is characterised by intricate arrangements, haunting themes and moody melodies.
Opening track Outlaster speaks of endurance, “savage beauty” and redemption. The song bursts into action with pulsating drums and an urgent glissando bass that conjures up suspense and culminates with a spectacular outro. Vice Versa has a harder edge, with a heavy sky that hums with an unsettling energy. Expand brings a shift in tone which Bouloudis describes as “first light.” It feels like opening a window and finding a sense of reconciliation with events of the past.
Photo credit: Luke J Novak
Title track Devil Is Doubt draws on the sentiments of Expand with a nocturnal emphasis and a darker testimony as Bouloudis confesses “my mind is a haunted house”. Strings creak and twist with a sense of rising, vertiginous tension which explodes into a sonically charged climax. In Coal, Bouloudis shows us her defiant handling of heartbreak and How Many Winters? brings a seductive close to the record with its playful vocal phrasing and melodic bassline. Enough to send a flutter through you.
Bouloudis says ‘I wanted to drench this record with nighttime. After dark is when we really have to confront our deepest fears and anxieties. In Devil Is Doubt, I deal with all the shades of the battle I was having with myself. A person can be strong, vulnerable, angry and defiant all at the same time and I was determined not to be afraid to express that. What holds the record together is a unifying sense of an unbreakable spirit pushing ahead of existential agonies.’