On her debut solo album, Natural Disaster, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast fame confronts the chaos and upheaval of modern life head-on, offering a thought-provoking and heartfelt response that embraces compassion, imagination, and an audacious sense of possibility.
For years, the idea of a solo album wasn't on Bethany Cosentino's radar. But then everything changed. Literally everything. The global pandemic, climate change, a diseased patriarchy trampling on democracy and human rights - the list goes on. Against this turbulent backdrop, Cosentino found herself taking stock of her life and questioning her path. "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" she asked herself.
Cosentino explains, "I never really had the opportunity to examine my life under such a microscope because I was always preoccupied in some way. It gave me the chance to ask myself, 'What do you want? What happens if you stop living for others and start believing that you don't owe anyone anything but owe yourself everything?'"
Growing up in the spotlight presented its own challenges. Cosentino felt pigeonholed and confined by others' perceptions of her. She wanted to break free from the constraints of her past and forge a new identity. She reflects, "Entering the public eye at the age of 22 left me feeling perpetually 22. No matter how hard I tried to evolve, I kept getting pulled back to where I started. It became clear that I needed to push myself in a completely different direction. The road I was on was taking me back to square one."
Embracing the concept of the hero's quest, Cosentino embarked on her own transformative journey by deciding to make a solo album. Yet, like any journey worth undertaking, it was far from easy. Leaving behind her identity as "Bethany from Best Coast" was a daunting task. She felt she needed permission to step away from what she had been doing for over a decade, but the only permission she required was her own. Deep down, she knew if she didn't venture into something new, she wouldn't be able to move forward. Despite her worries about others' opinions, a voice within her urged her to keep going.
Thus, Natural Disaster was born, a solo album that embodies the state of the world and Cosentino's personal journey. Departing from the understated indie-pop sound of Best Coast, she infuses her lyrical reflections with a radiant form of pop-rock. Influenced by artists like Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and the female-led acts of Lilith Fair, the album combines intimate storytelling with universal truths, offering a fresh perspective on our ever-changing world.
Produced by Butch Walker and recorded primarily in Nashville, Natural Disaster places Cosentino's voice front and center, both literally and metaphorically. It's an album that radiates gritty luminosity, showcasing her growth as a songwriter and lyricist. "For so many years, I used music as a form of survival," she reveals. "With this record, I put much more thought into the stories I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell them."
From the effervescent folk-pop of the title track, "Natural Disaster," which reflects the chaotic early days of the pandemic, to the introspective and vulnerable moments in tracks like "Outta Time" and "I've Got News For You," Cosentino offers a diverse range of experiences. The album closes with the raw and deeply personal piano ballad "I've Got News For You," capturing the risk and vulnerability of opening oneself up to love.
As Cosentino shares Natural Disaster with the world, she hopes it will inspire others to embrace transformation and renewal. Just as her musical influences have taken risks and explored different versions of themselves, she aims to continue growing and challenging herself both as an artist and as a person. She encourages listeners to break free from stagnation and discover the magic that lies on the other side of fear. Taking risks and making significant changes can be daunting, but the rewards can be truly magical.