It is always refreshing to come across new, young artists in South Africa who represent a unique approach, totally separate from the mainstream clichés that dominate radio stations.

Canadian-born artist Natasha Meister brings forth her singing and songwriting talent in her first album Half Way, released on 20 April in Cape Town.

The Natasha Meister Band, consisting of bass guitarist Roger Bashew (who produced the album) and drummer Paul Tizzard, brings blues back to the South African music scene.

Inspired by the work of Stevie Wonder, B.B. King and Aretha Franklin, the band established their image by participating in many shows across the country, including Splashy Fen, Cape Acoustic, Table Mountain Blues Summit and Synergy Live.

The album’s 11 tracks speak of love and loneliness and were all written and composed by 20-year-old Meister. The passionate tone in her songs showcases her potential as a vocalist and her own lyrics make the album innovative and personal, while her electric and acoustic guitar capability enhances her musical credibility.

A combination of blues, funk and soul dominate Half Way and brings a melancholic tone to the majority of the songs. The more lively songs have a jazz influence, lending the album some variety.

As Half Way progresses, there’s a slight change of pace in the songs. The album starts and ends solidly but the middle is a little mediocre.

The track “Too Little Too Late” stands out because of its engaging lyrics. “Good Thang” is one of the more fast-paced songs and has an incredible guitar solo. The distinguishing tunes of “Winter Storm” and “You’re So Good for Me” make the songs more memorable than the rest.

Be on the lookout for Meister’s forthcoming music video for “Safe in the Silence” which is being shot in Cape Town. The Natasha Meister Band has produced a debut album filled with soulful vocals and rousing instrumentals. Although improvement is essential, they have made a noteworthy and respectable first attempt.

RATING: 6/10


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