Natasha Nettleton wants to hit you in the gut.
But don’t worry; this tall slender woman won’t use her fists to get your attention.
It’s her music she wants you to hear.
With her new seven-track debut CD, titled Save a Place, Nettleton belts out a half-hour of brawny, intimate songs she wrote and composed herself.
And Thursday on the Yukon Arts Centre’s stage, she’ll formally release the newly pressed disc.
With a sound that can be compared to Sarah McLachlan, Carole King or Tori Amos, among others, there’s no doubt that Nettleton can belt out her heartfelt lyrics from the bottom of her being.
Her music is honest.
It’s unafraid and unapologetic.
“I’ll take the risk of undoing myself in front of people,” she says.
As long as people are listening.
“I’m not music to drink your wine to; I feel like I’m singing to a wall if I’m not being heard.”
For Nettleton, the purpose of performing is to connect and to exchange with her audience.
She describes her sound as “folk- and jazz-influenced adult contemporary.”
It’s a mouthful.
But, really, she’s best at explaining what her music is not.
Don’t expect pop or bubblegum tunes from this songwriter.
A lot of the music on the radio is one-dimensional, whiny and indulgent, she says.
“They’re spewing out a lot of blame instead of going deeper into the core.”
“And if you sing about individual relationships you are going to stay on the surface,” she says.
“But every so often there are incredible love songs that delve in deeper and get to the core — that’s what I hope to do.”
Her music is not intellectual and it’s not meant to impress, she says.
“There’s a lot of music that’s interesting in a analytical way and I respect that, but it doesn’t always hit me in the gut and make me excited.”
As a minister’s daughter, Nettleton grew up in front of a congregation singing and playing music at Bethany Church on the Alaska Highway.
When she was 14 she started a worship band.
“It was a hilarious motley crew,” she says with a laugh.
Today she’s still strongly connected to the church where she volunteers at its New Life FM radio station and with its youth group.
And although now a long way from the teenage worship band, Nettleton still directs her voice to the heavens and means for some of her songs to reach God’s ears — though that’s not her first thought as she begins to put pen to paper.
“If I write things that are honest about my life they automatically reflect something about God because he is such a big part of my life.
“It’s not preachy — that’s not what comes out of me. I don’t like preachy music, no matter what is being said, I find it insulting.
“For me, music is not the place to do that.”
Nettleton sets out to expose the truth about what she is experiencing and hopes others find resonance with her words.
“I don’t think there’s enough music tapping into that,” she says.
Nettleton was born and raised in the Yukon, but she had to go halfway across the planet for the inspiration to share her voice and release this CD.
After graduating from university, she headed east and spent two years teaching English in Japan.
“I experienced a lot of isolation there; although I enjoyed my experiences, it was not a creatively warm place,” says Nettleton.
So she spent her time in hiding, retreating into her room to write and make music.
She was alone and she cried out for help.
“And he answered in a big beautiful way,” she says with a wide smile.
“I took refuge in a simple thought — I am perceived by God and I am not alone.
“I stopped second guessing and torturing myself with self doubt and used the gift I was given.”
And it was there she had a revelation — get it out!
It got the creative gears turning.
And although the seed was planted half a world away, she returned home to the Yukon to start her career.
“I came back to my hometown and, as it turned out, this was the place to be to get started.”
She moved back in with mom and dad and directed her attention toward creating music.
Fuelled with a $2,200 Yukon government advanced artist award, Nettleton honed her lyrics and compositions and then settled in to spend months in the studio crafting her album with Jay Burr of Plughead Productions.
Nettleton will play the arts centre on Thursday night with musical newcomer Matthew Janiga opening.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
Save a Place is available at stores around Whitehorse, plus check out Nettleton’s website at www.natashanettleton.com.