Natalie Prass
Credit: Ryan Patterson

Singer-songwriter Natalie Prass has a singular sound that cleverly combines post-Pet Sounds baroque pop and groovily accessible Motown-style soul—two different vintage sounds that coexisted on the mellow end of the musical spectrum during the late ’60s and early ’70s, and have since both inspired devoted cult followings, but rarely overlapped back in the day. It’s an inspired blend, and it’s already paying off in the buzz surrounding her upcoming self-titled LP (out Jan. 26 on Spacebomb Records), including nods from Pitchfork and a spot on Time‘s list of 15 Musical Artists to Watch in 2015.

In the lead-up to the album’s release, Prass made EW a playlist that highlights some of its influences, particularly the female soul artists who have influenced her over the years.

Dionne Warwick- “(I’m) Just Being Myself”

“This record was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, the guys that helped shaped the Motown sound, and I think it’s the most soulful, raw album she has made, even more so than the other Dionne track I added later in the playlist from her album “Soulful”. The dryness of the drums and how there’s no snare, the guitar delay and the string swells always keep me wanting more! Dionne is hands down one of my favorite singers. Her control is unbeatable. The whole Warwick family is just amazing, including their cousin, Whitney Houston, of course, and her little sister Dee Dee, who is also on this playlist.”

Diana Ross – “Surrender”

“Diana Ross might be the very first female voice that I fell in love with. I made a time capsule in second grade and buried my Supremes CD with it in the backyard. The next day I realized what I had done then went and dug it back up to listen to it. I still have that CD. Never burying it again.”

Linda Lewis – “Waterbaby”

“This is the very first song I ever heard by Linda. I felt an instant connection with her voice and delivery. I recommend finding her songs ‘Not a Little Girl Anymore’ and ‘Red Light Ladies’ …also her version of ‘This Time I’ll Be Sweeter.’ Lots of amazing females have covered that last song, but her version is my favorite.”

Gal Costa – “Divino Maravilhoso”

“This is a song off of Gal’s first solo album, released in 1969. Gal is a force. You’ll have to listen to understand the deep power she possesses and I highly recommend this record as a starting point…or you can stop here. This record has enough magic to last you a whole year.”

Dorothy Norwood – “Come and Go With Me”

“I found out about Dorothy through my friend and fellow band mate, Josh Adams. He dug this record out of the $1 bin while on tour because he thought it looked cool, and sure enough, it’s an incredible record. This is my favorite track off the album. I then went on a full Dorothy binge, and if gospel is your deal, please go dig into Dorothy’s world.”

Dee Dee Warwick – “Foolish Fool”

“I’ve always thought Dionne is overlooked and under appreciated, but holy shit, her little sister Dee Dee is barely known at all! This song is beyond great. She’s way more of a powerhouse singer then her sister, but there are lots of similarities as well in their tone. The extended intro never gets old to me, and the drum breakdown in the bridge is insane.”

Minnie Ripperton – “Les Fleurs”

“Love the fluttering verse melody of this song and the production builds ever so subtly but hits you so hard when the heavy contrast of the chorus kicks in.”

Betty Harris – “There’s a Break in the Road”

“For a while I thought Betty’s story was that she was a truck driver before being a singer and only sang songs that had to do with driving. I was wrong about that. This song is so freakin’ funky.”

Nina Simone – “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter”

“It’s hard to pick one song out of the millions of amazing songs Nina sings, but I knew she had to be on this list. Her version of this song blew me away when I first heard it. Is there anyone cooler than Nina?”

Dionne Warwick – “We Can Work It Out”

“I love how this version starts out with the bridge. That’s a nice touch. Dionne brings it so hard and the background singers really shine in this production. Of course it’s a similar vibe to Stevie’s version, but she holds it down. Is it bad to say I prefer this feel (Stevie & Dionne’s) over Paul’s?”

Melba Moore – “Blood Red Roses”

“You always see Melba records when sifting at any vinyl shop. I’ve never put any of her records aside to listen to until recently. Most of it is a little too disco for my taste, but there’s a few ballads here and there like this song and ‘Lean On Me’ that I really connected with and listen to over and over.”

The Pointer Sisters – “Yes We Can Can”

“These girls absolutely crush this version of this tune! Go check out their BBC live video immediately! You’ll be pumped up for weeks.”