With her new album, Strip Me, Natasha Bedingfield reminds us of the gift she has for creating, heartfelt, dynamic pop anthems. Her music and lyrics are thoughtful and yet irresistible. Strip Me is the follow-up to 2008's Pocketful of Sunshine, a megahit in the U.S. selling over three million singles of the title track and featuring four number one dance singles.
The Londoner, Bedingfield who now maintains a residence in Los Angeles as well as in the UK, has spent the better part of the last five years touring and promoting her first two albums. Her experiences traveling the globe provided her with a unique perspective that helped inform this thoughtful new body of work. Writing more than 50 songs, Bedingfield, armed with an impressive production team of modern hitmakers including, GRAMMY award winner John Shanks (Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow), Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic, Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis), Wayne Wilkins (Beyonce), John Hill (Shakira, Santigold), Kleerup (Robyn, Cyndi Lauper), Danielle Brisebois (co writer of "Unwritten" and "Pocketful of Sunshine") and reuniting with Steve Kipner, who produced Natasha's own smash hit "These Words," stripped down her songs to the 13 tracks contained on her newest release.
Each song on Strip Me evokes the innate desires, needs and fears which people feel in these most troubling times. Although the title of the album is provocative, the songs Natasha writes underscore the things that are important to her. Bedingfield's message is clear. Don't get caught up in material things. Don't be afraid to be loved, to be supported, and to be touched. Believe in yourself and follow your heart. "Five years of non stop touring on the road took it's toll on me" Bedingfield says. "I had to stop and remind myself why I started making music in the first place. I started out trying to base songs around the idea of basic human desireswhat do we all need, want and share? My songs celebrate that sense you have when you see a wild horse, that feeling of being free and unburdened. That's how I like to feel, and that's what I hope communicates itself when you hear my music."
This spirit is evident on such songs as "Weightless," "Can't Fall Down", "Break Thru," and "Run Run Run." Feeling confident and powerful also lies at the heart of Strip Me's title song and first single. "In the chorus," she says, "it goes, 'Build me up, or cut me down to size/Shut me out but I'll just scream/I'm only one voice in a million, but you ain't taking that from me.' People can mistreat or slight you, but that shouldn't change who you are or how you feel about yourself. We're not defined by others, but by what's inside. We mustn't forget about the power of each person's voice."
Musically, Strip Me represents a deliberate evolution for Bedingfield. "I hope that the sound of the album reflects the energy and magic of a live show. I tried to fuse rocking guitars and live percussion with programmed beats and synthesizers. My musical heroes run the gamut from Deborah Harry and Joni Mitchell to Lauren Hill and Bjork. And let's not forget about Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, The Cranberries and Jeff Buckley. Oh yeah, and Missy Elliot too!" So while Strip Me saw Bedingfield collaborating with many of the writers and producers from her previous two albums, this time around she also brought in some collaborators with different musical backgrounds.
Bedingfield takes pains to challenge some of the media misconceptions that surround her. "I grew up singing in church, so people assume that I am traditional, and very proper," she says. "That's not the case at all. My upbringing wasn't very conventional. My parents worked with recovering drug addicts and homeless people. They immigrated to London from New Zealand which has a laid back, organic and wonderfully folky vibe, whereas London is more cosmopolitan, urban and bustling. That's a unique combination. My music reflects that collision of sensibilities. Urban gypsies in a big, amazing melting pot, with differences that we should celebrate."
Bedingfield captured that diversity and excitement on her first album, 2004's Unwritten. The disc debuted at Number One on the UK album chart, and sold over two million copies worldwide. The album's title track became the most played track at U.S. pop radio in 2006, and recently received a BMI award for 3 million plays. It was also the first Number One pop single by a British female solo artist in the U.S. in almost 20 years and garnered Bedingfield her first Grammy nomination for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance."
On Strip Me Bedingfield hopes to take things to the next level. "Pop music today is very much about branding and imaging," she says, "but I would like to believe that the world is getting back to what's deep and meaningful, and that people want to be in touch with things that are real."