Brandy Does Her Best To Understand

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Wherever I travel, people always ask me if there are any brilliant new Devastationalist musicians I can recommend, preferably someone they don’t already know about. That’s easy. I always say Natalie Robin.

I first stumbled across Natalie and her music while playing MySpace hopscotch. Irresistibly, the headline quote on her page read:

“If you hate yourself, you’ll love my music.”

The songs she had posted at the time were spellbinding, and they swirled around and around in your head like good, strong red wine. And despite their woozy, hallucinatory qualities, the songs were rendered with impeccable precision.

And so for the next few months I raptly followed her new song postings (and the sudden, erratic, dead-of-night deletions) along with the general melodrama and self-deprecation of her elliptic commentary. It was by far the most Devastationalist thing going, and it was all the more impressive in that she made the songs all by herself on an old four-track in her bedroom in her parents’ house (I think she’s 23 or 24): writing the unflinchingly honest songs, playing all the instruments with alarming sophistication, singing the intricate vocal arrangements.

I’ve never met Natalie (she lives in the East Bay), though we’ve corresponded. She comes across as too bright and too vulnerable for her own good, occasionally extremely funny, more often shy, moody, prickly, eccentric, and harder on no one than herself. (You know, the usual stuff.)

The song below didn’t last very long online, and I’m glad I grabbed it before she took it down because it’s my favorite, an anthem of utter disillusionment. It’s hair-raising in its quiet intensity, chilling at its denouement. And it’s also insane the depth of things you can hear echoes of in this song (from Aretha to the Velvets). But I’m going to refrain from playing rock critic — you can listen for yourself. Then pay a visit to Natalie’s MySpace page and leave a comment gently encouraging her to get into a proper recording studio immediately.

Man and Himself (Natalie Robin)

Natalie Robin

Let me swallow your pride for you
‘Cause thats always been something you dont think that you need to do
And until we are buried under the earth
We settle for better, but mostly for worse

And if you were who you think you are
You’d be the only person I know that has it all
And if you were who you think you are
Things would be different and I wouldnt stall
To be near you

Let me follow the lines for you
‘Cause you think that you’re too good to stand here with the rest of us fools
And until you are gone from the touch of the sun
You settle to be the person you’ll never become

And if you were who you think you are
You’d be the only person I know that has it all
And if you were who you think you are
Things would be different and I wouldnt stall

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