ARIA Award-Winning composer and pianist Nat Bartsch has triumphed again with her latest album Hope, that was written in response to the unexpected challenges of 2020. In January, 2020, the fires of what came to be known as The Black Summer ravaged Australia. With the smell of iminent smoke filling her home, Bartsch wrote "For the Koalas", a contemplative piece with rhythmic ostinato reminiscent of Philip Glass accompanied by elative melodies similar to the likes of Alan Menken. In contrast to this we have "Brightness in the Hills", an acoustic-pop-like tune in which Bartsch’s influences from Sufjan Stevens and Radiohead become apparent. It was not long after the devastating fires that the world was plunged into lockdown. The piece "For Now" conveys a quiet feeling of optimism, waiting for better days, yet the track leaves you with a sense of ‘bated breath’ as it then flows into "Over the River" played tenderly by Kyla Matsuura-Miller, Madeline Jevons, William Clark and James Morley.
Hope is somewhat a more meditative expansion on Bartsch’s previous jazz work with the Nat Bartsch Trio. Images of the Australian countryside are conjured whilst listening to this album. The glimpses of light over the orange/green hills contrasted by that slight shiver you feel as a cloud rolls over to cover the sun. This album is a journey through emotions and events that rocked Australia, yet it is composed with such poise and is executed masterfully. Hope is a true and honest reflection of Bartsch’s intent as a composer and performer that can be felt deep within your core.