Nathan Hartono is one brave soul.
In his latest album, Feeling Good With Nathan Hartono, the 16-year-old not only takes risks with already commercially successful hits and gives them a twist, but also tackles standards by music legends such as Stevie Wonder, Barry White and Frank Sinatra.
Named after his sell-out concerts at the Esplanade Recital Studio in June this year, Feeling Good With Nathan Hartonoconsists of 12 tracks that were recorded ‘live’ during his performance.
Managed by Music & Movement, the album features a diverse range of songs from classics like “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” to contemporary pieces like Keane’s “Everybody’s Changing”, and from ballads like King Pleasure’s “Moody’s Mood For Love” to a remix of the rock number “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
It seems Nathan is set to have his rich voice heard by a wide target audience, and for a 16-year-old who’s still considerably new to the music scene, that’s a huge chance he’s taking. Once again, herein is a brave soul.
The album exudes an overall light feel – one that almost makes it perfect for pleasant company music, whether Nathan’s whistling in Sweet’s “Daydream” or reaching the higher notes in “Moody’s Mood For Love”. Commendable tracks include his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” and Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything” which will easily capture listeners’ attention and bring them on a journey back in time with Nathan’s deep and supple vocals.
But it’s the quieter and mellower parts of the album that bring on the goose bumps. Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic”, with its simple sounds, helped bring the focus on Nathan’s vocals and it shone quite marvelously, almost bringing justice to the definition of sweet serenading and marking the highlight of the collection.
Unfortunately, that’s as much that worked to Nathan’s favour in terms of the risks he took with his selection of songs. Bolder choices like “Seven Nation Army” and its disappointing music arrangement clouded his already unsuitable vocals, which the Teenage Icon quite evidently tried to alter but failed to pull through successfully. Numbers like Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” also proved to be too much of a challenge for the youngster, who failed to keep up to the standards of the band.
There’s only so much that could work in an album that attempts to reinvent or emulate the work of major superstars in music history. But for a singer in his teens, what Nathan obviously has is time to nurture his vocals and find the identity and style that suits him best.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars