Natashia Kelly: Dear Darkening Ground 

Strong-voiced Belgian singer leads piano, guitar, bass and drums in a set of originals that emphasises improvisation


New on the scene, Natashia Kelly is a Belgian singer who studied at musical conservatories, especially in Brussels where one of her instructors was David Linx and from where she secured a degree in jazz singing in 2011.

Performing extensively in Belgium, she has attracted favourable attention with her often highly personal singing and songwriting style. She has worked mostly with small groups, their personnel drawn from the Belgian contemporary music scene, and including duo sets with bassist Yannick Peeters.

As a singer, there are aural hints of her Irish heritage although the dominant influence is improvised music, not surprising in an artist born in 1986. Her singing voice is strong, her interpretation of the lyrics powerful, sometimes implying their importance overrules the melodic setting.

For some of the songs Kelly has composed for this album, she has stated that inspiration was drawn from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, W.B. Yeats and others, whose long-ago work explored the interaction and conflict between man and nature, conflict that is even more relevant and dangerous today. This, allied to the intense manner of presentation, makes the listener particularly conscious of the stories told by Kelly’s songs.

The instrumental accompanists supporting Kelly here are well-established figures on the Belgian contemporary jazz and improvisation scene. In particular, there are some good solos from pianist Nicola Andrioli, while guitarist Ruben Machtelinkx also has his share of the spotlight and is especially strong in support as are Peeters and Dré Pallemaerts.

This release will appeal especially to those attuned to current developments in improvised music.

Dear Darkening Ground; Miracle And Mirage; Shadows In The Rain; Illusions; The Mighty Absence; Wilderland; Panta Rei; Wind Song Titles (35.28)
Kelly (v); Nicola Andrioli (p); Ruben Machtelinkx (g, bjo on Panta Rei); Yannick Peeters (b); Dré Pallemaerts (d). Bruges, 2022.
De W.E.R.F Records