Recently, Natalie York played a split bill with Raye Zaragoza and the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow at Boston’s Foundation Room as a kickoff to her Highway Heroines tour. That afternoon, York drove in from New York for the show, the first road trip in a seven-week stretch of road trips for her.
Since the beginning of May, she and Zaragoza have been navigating the East Coast and beyond, finding themselves as far north as Burlington, VT, with upcoming dates as far south as Atlanta and as far west as Chicago. At the Foundation Room, it was clear that York is well-suited for this tour, with an alt-country sound that’s seemlessly comfortable above or below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Raised in Virginia but rooted in Brooklyn, York is equal parts Southern charm and big city sensibility, which can’t help but come across in her sound. The singer-songwriter brings something of Saturday night’s confidence with Sunday morning’s smoothness — a voice with the romance to cut through smoky barrooms. For the unfamiliar, think Norah Jones’s work in Puss n Boots.
In Boston, York played (mostly) solo, setting herself against an ever-moving Martin acoustic, which she bounced around her torso, as she closed her eyes and pushed her voice into the room and onto Lansdowne Street. It was a change of pace from the electricity of the Natalie York Band, but the set remained big and her vocals remained powerful and excited, like the full cavalry was behind her.
There’s something to be said for songs that can transfer from a full band to a single guitar. By herself or with Whiskey Treaty when they stepped in for a few songs, York was polished, bold, and unyielding. Part coffee shop, part juke joint; that’s York’s charm. In the same breath, she can — and will — be either.
York’s music is a dynamic effort of bluesy alt-country, which is thoughtful, crafted, and mature, in spite of her youth. Nowhere is that more evident than on her alternate, slowed down version of “Wheels,” a new take on the second track from her 2014 album Promises.
In the studio for Promises, engineer Kenny Siegel turned around in his chair, looked at York, and said “I have an idea.” They slowed “Wheels” way down, slinked it up, then waited. Producer Russ Flynn tinkered with it for about a year, and now, the KS (Kenny Siegel) version of “Wheels” is here, for your listening pleasure.
Highway Heroines’ full dates are available at http://www.natalieyork.com/shows.
(Photos courtesy of Luis Ruiz)