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  • Jonathan Widran

PAUL NATURAL featuring Miette Hope, "Close To Me"

In mid-2021, thanks to a surreal dance-pop electronica track and video titled “On the Rise,” this site was introduced simultaneously to three extraordinary talents, Brooklyn based dance/pop electronica composer/producer Paul Natural, featured emerging vocalist Dominic Augustine and animator and video director Luke Moellman, whose concept of having a futuristic car gliding over images of a dystopian landscape drove home the song’s concept of the human spirit somehow triumphing over the edge of despair. It was a true anthem for these anxious yet cautiously hopeful times.

The dynamic audiovisual collaboration between Natural and Moellman continues beautifully and powerfully on “Close To Me,” a sultry and atmospheric yet infectiously pulsating dance tune that introduces us to another essential indie singer/songwriter, Brooklyn neo-soul artist Miette Hope. Since 2017, the now 22 year old vocalist has brought her unique combination of poetic, hard hitting lyrics and spatially rhythmic grooves to an incredible total of over 20 singles, several of which (“On Repeat,” “Where Do We Go,” “Alone,” “Sacrifices”) have scored hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify. “Close To Me” is the third song/video in this series sharing Natural’s multi-dimensional vision.

Hope’s earthy and sensual yet ethereal vocals are the perfect match for Natural’s adventurous beats and electronica imaginings, riding his multitude of quick rhythm changes to perfectly convey passion, desire, hope, promises and the overarching goal expressed in the hypnotic hook: “Gotta get you close to me.” The song acknowledges that there are always limitations in such endeavors, sometimes steeped in communication issues, which Hope shares in a brief interlude section halfway through: “If I ever get a chance to tell you…”

While by design, the track compels us to listen most closely to her alluring, intimacy engendering vocals, Natural’s ambient, rhythmically eclectic flow creates the perfect sonic landscape for the expression of hopeful love and desire. He starts with an atmospheric wash with a hypnotic repeating urgent high tone, then gets quickly merges those intoxicating energies into the throbbing groove as Hope begins singing. Then he slows the tempo for the first verse, his lower key, gentle percussion and surreal yet subtle sonic touches allowing us the opportunity to focus on the lyrical narrative. He underscores her intensifying vocal passion with throbbing beats and emphatic synth harmonies. Their emotional ebb and flow continues throughout, like a spirited dance seduction marked by intense love and cautious hope punctuated by moments of short lived uncertainty.

While equally stunning and visually mesmerizing, Moellman’s video for “Close To Me” is very different in tone and theme from the one he created for “On The Rise.” While the earlier clip was about transcending and soaring above an existing bleakness, the imagery on “Close to Me” reflects blossoming hope, the unfolding and existing beauty of the natural world and the ongoing ebb and flow of life. The dominant image used to convey this combination of beauty and optimism is the lotus flower, which is regarded in many different cultures, especially in Eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Tying in with the theme of the song, on a human level, all of these things begin with the simple desire for hearts and souls to connect.

Moellman’s opening image speaks volumes. It is one of these vibrant pink flowers spinning slowly, with a mystical river of flowing light emerging from a glowing center. In the natural, this could be pollen flowing to create more and more gorgeous flowers, but in the emotional/spiritual sense, it’s about spreading seeds of hope. The next shot of many flowers in a pool lit by light beams gives way to a landscape shot with a giant lotus unfolding in a river with a mysterious human like presence ascending before a dusky sky filled with pink clouds.

Many of the other impactful images show liquid in motion, including a single leaf with the human body form adrift on a pink pool, an outstretched hand trying to grasp a purply liquid “smoke” (no doubt conveying the sometimes elusive nature of love) and a slowly moving flow of silver mercury slipping through outstretched fingers. Other key scenes include a translucent glass cube filled with those lotus flowers (as if contained and preserved) and a red desert landscape with contrasting bright red and white light images projected, with a glowing human form observing nearby. The display and pace of these whirlwind of images match perfectly with what Natural and Hope are expressing in “Close To Me.”


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