Natalia Mateo – Polish Singer presenting her “Heart Of Darkness”

Natalia Mateo
Natalia Mateo on Sunday at b-flat.

Here comes a singer who defies categorization, who doesn’t want to sing the usual standards because “everything has been said”. That’s what she told me during our meeting on a late Sunday afternoon in a Kreuzberg café. But she does include one or the other better known song in her repertoire, albeit not really what you would expect.

Natalia Mateo started off her concert last night at the packed b-flat with a totally deconstructed and trimmed down “Somebody’s Watching Me”, the only hit song by the son of Motown chairman Berry Gordy, Kennedy Gordy, better known as Rockwell. The song went to Number 2 in 1984. Natalia is using the chorus of the song and strips it bare, surrounding it with mythic layers, careful insinuation as if she really feels that somebody is observing her.

The great thing about her act is that she includes several songs in her native Polish language which gives the whole show a sort of a folk/world ambiance and also a bit of an exotic touch even though this is the language of our direct neighbors, but it still sounds charmingly strange. Natalia is presenting music of her upcoming release, the ACT Music album “Heart Of Darkness” (out on March 27th) which, for example, includes the wonderfully melancholic traditional polish song “Trudno”. In fact, some of the songs are more like a seance. And there is the air of sadness and mourning hanging in the room. I felt a bit estranged sometimes because her voice had too much reverb which is supposed to be part of the show but which wasn’t always necessary.

natalia_mateo2And then all of a sudden she bursts out the Nina Simone staple “I Put A Spell On You” or the intense Billie Holiday drama “Strange Fruit” which she does in a convincingly spare and simple version. And there was a wonderful little ditty penned by her pianist Simon Grote called “Tonight I’ll Sleep In Space”. Her equally young and able band was flawless throughout with some exceptional solos by guitarist Dany Ahmad, trumpeter and flugelhornist Gregor Lener, bassist Christopher Bolte, and drummer Fabian Ristau.

Here’s your chance to catch this extraordinary band:

3/20 Frankfurt, Fabrik

4/02 Kiel, StattCafé

4/10 Hannover, GUT

4/17 Munich, Unterfahrt

4/18 Ulm, Kunstwerk

4/24 Bremen

5/01 Hannover, Faust

5/16 Leipzig, Moritzbastei

5/20 Hannover, Faust

5/21 Hamburg, Fabrik

5/22 Osnabrück, Lutherhaus

6/18 Bremen, Haus am Walde

6/19 Einbeck, Kultur im Esel


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