Nat Johnson has a story to tell. Since her musical beginnings in 2003 with folkpop outfit Monkey Swallows the Universe, the singer, songwriter and guitarist has released three heartfelt albums, changing her band, musical style and often her mind along the way. She has now focused her talents on producing her fourth and most accomplished album to date, backed by her band The Figureheads.
When Nat began writing I’m Across, I’m Ashore, she had no idea she had started a concept album. Ranging from the sparse acoustic twinkling of MSTU to a heavier kind of heartbreak, the 14-track album tells of her songwriting journey:
“It’s not linear, but I suppose it is a concept album!” says Nat. “Both lyrically and musically, it’s the most important album I’ve written. It’s hard for anyone with music in their bones to accept that they can’t do it every day and that’s what the album is about – thinking about how that has felt for me, realising how lucky I’ve been to do any of the things I’ve done, coming to terms with the frustration and being happy with where I am. Writing these songs gave me peace of mind; it was therapeutic, cathartic.
“A couple of the songs deal with my relationship with Sheffield and the prospect of maybe even leaving it one day -The Harebell is kind of a sequel to Sheffield Shanty. We’re all uncertain of where life is taking each of us next.”
Monkey Swallows the Universe disbanded in 2008 after two critically acclaimed albums, having toured with Richard Hawley, Camera Obscura and The Long Blondes and performed at a host of festivals and all over the radio.
Following the breakup, singer, songwriter and guitarist Nat went solo for a short while, releasing the single ‘Dirty Rotten Soul’, before deciding her musical ship was in want of a figurehead. The Figureheads were promptly assembled, comprising Kevin Gori, Chris Loftus, Neil Piper and Emily Gunn.
Their debut album, "Roman Radio", was released in late 2009 on Damaged Goods Records and live sessions with Marc Riley, Tom Robinson and John Kennedy followed. The ‘What the Heart Pours Into’ EP was released in March 2011, gathering further radio support.
‘I’m Across, I’m Ashore’ is out on 14th Feb 2012 on Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation. It was recorded at 2Fly Studios in Sheffield and was partly funded by a Pledgemusic.com project, where fans from around the world pledged for exclusive items including the original album artwork painted by Nat.