Here at the Send Me Your Ears studio today, we’ve been listening to the latest single from Kensington, US artist, Natalie Jean. I Can’t was released on December 3rd, 2022.

I Can’t is a song about the loss of Natalie’s pianist who died suddenly last year. The song is about the loss of a dear friend, not being able to let go and allowing herself to grieve.

I Can’t starts with the sound of vinyl static before moving quickly into an acoustic/Americana sound with a lovely live-sounding four-on-the-floor thumpy kick drum and gorgeous picked acoustic guitar.

When the vocals come in, they are clear and present in the mix. Natalie’s voice has just the right amount of twang to work well in a country song and the melody of the lead line gets stuck in your head quickly and draws the listener in, making it feel familiar.

It is a clever feature of this song that it progresses by adding an extra instrument every few bars. The second verse brings in a banjo playing a counter rhythm and then a bass joins the mix together with some extra incidental guitars. It continues to progress by adding in some stereo hand claps, making the song sound huge. Eventually, a violin joins the mix and adds in some classy country-like flourishes. Poetically, the only instrument we can’t hear is a piano.

The choruses add in some extra claps and some strummed guitar and the song drops back after the chorus before a stop and a full blast back in with the chorus, this time with extra vocals and a stinger ending leaves the listener wanting more.

Natalie is not just a superb vocalist and songwriter she is also co-founder of Sisters in Music. The other co-founder is Nicki Kris. Sisters in Music empowers women in the entertainment, music, and Performing Arts.

Ideas from our ears

Some vocal EQ cuts might help with a few resonant peaks. Cuts at 350Hz and 700Hz would help reduce some ‘boxy’ and ‘honky’ tones respectively. A single-band compressor on the top 2 octaves could help increase the brightness in the track without accentuating the sibilant parts of the vocal too much. Finally, a light compressor/limiter with around 5dB of make-up gain would add extra warmth and punch as well as raising the overall volume to match similar releases. As always, these are just some ideas from our ears.

Final thoughts

Natalie Jean’s, I Can’t, is a heartfelt and emotional pop/Americana crossover track which displays some quality twangy and powerful vocals. This was our first introduction to this artist, but this track has piqued our interest to search out more. We urge you to do the same.