Only Natural is beautiful collection of soulful ballads, folk, country and roots music, all original songs by Alan Franks and sung by Patty Vetta.
The title track sees Patty returning to her country influences, with stylish assistance from Steve Reynolds’s piano and Tony Harris’s steel guitar.
Here too are several powerful narrative ballads in the English folk tradition.
Perhaps the best received of these was the searing Home Front, which takes the story from the classic song of love and war, The Banks of the Nile, into a modern context. The soldier, Willy, is no longer bound for the cofllict with Napoleonic forces in Ottoman Egypt, but for Afghanistan and the war declared by America against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. His wife Nancy is no longer pleading with him to let her disguise herself as a soldier and go with him, but is begging him to think of their two small children.
There is also a Fifties-tinged celebration of loyalty in love, Those Feelings Never Went Away which, like the earlier Nearer To You from the album Will, brought comparisons between Patty’s singing and that of Vera Lynn.
One of Alan’s earliest numbers, an ode to suspicion called I’ll Never Close My Eyes Again, became a jazz-inflected blues thanks not only to her but also to the saxophone playing of Mel Thorpe.
A strong echo of Alan’s revue background is audible in the playful Heaven in the Top Flat – ‘Just like the curtains, I’m feeling certain We’ll never spend the night apart…’
Evidence too of his debt to French chanson in the enigmatic The Twin I Never Had.
Patty’s remarkable versatility is reaffirmed through her beautiful interpretations of Peace For Which We Pray and When The World Is Full of Water, both of which fall most closely into the category of the secular hymn.
The fifth of their albums, this was the first to be recorded at the Caprasound Studio in Lincolnshire. Musicians: Patty Vetta (vocals); Alan Franks (guitar, vocals); Tony Harris (electric bass, rhythm guitars, banjo, lap steel, percussion); Graham Preskett (violin, accordion, mandolin); Steve Reynolds (piano, double bass, accordion); Mel Thorpe (flute, saxophone).