going beyond what is usual or ordinary;
She is one of the most legendary divas of the dance floor, a grand dame of club land and pop music, adored by fans around the world. Her voice instantly recognizable, her songs have become part of the soundtracks of our lifetimes. She is Ultra Naté and she’s back with a new album, called what else but simply ULTRA.
Speaking about her tenth studio album since the start of her career 30 years ago, Ultra said:“This ULTRA album, unlike any other, was the most cathartic and anchoring experience! Pandemic isolation and grief over the loss of many friends, unravelled the protective walls I had built around myself. Stripped bare emotionally, confused, and weary of the world, I needed to remind myself every day, who I was at my core.
“Writing, recording and shaping this collection of songs, physically alone, but with a team of people also committed to bringing this 10th album to life, was the gift.”
From the moment the needle drops on opening track HAPPY FEELING, it’s clear we’re in for something truly special. The euphoric feel-good anthem co-written and produced by Dino P and The Freemasons’ Russell Small, is pure disco-pop brilliance, a shimmering, shining, roof-raising way to announce Ultra’s intentions. Her vocal stretches itself across the entire track with effortless ease, matched in energy and pace by the flawless production that builds bar by bar towards a swirling climax. It’s an instant classic, a dynamite anthem in the waiting.
And the big hitters keep on coming with ULTRA.
MIRACLE, Ultra’s Afro-pop celebration of the joy and strength of Black womanhood is infectious. The Italo-house maestros Gianni Romano & Emanuele Esposito and John ‘J-C’ Carr’s intricate rhythm guitar work, percussion and punchy brass slide up to seductive drums etched with African-laced rhythms. Her collaboration with rising UK duo Funk Cartel (in collaboration with Point Blank Music School) called SUPERNATURAL is a laidback cut dripping with a raw, funk-soaked groove, peppered with woodwind, Ultra’s silken vocal lacing everything together. SOLD OUT delivers a signature future classic house stomp with a familiar sing-a-long feel created with the talented Chris Willis. The electro crunch, bump and grind of RICH M’FK’s, finds Ultra slowing her vocal to a slinky, sleazy city tone to match Henrik Schwarz’s tight, persistent production and a universal lyric message of being fed up. The fantastic and soulful SURVIVOR with GRAMMY Award winner Tracy Young sees the dance music legends combining their strengths and delivering an instant Garage-ish empowerment call-to-arms.
Heralded UK jazztronica duo, Blue Lab Beats deliver the perfect musical playground for a bit of spaced-out and groovy FUN to play loud. THE GARDEN, with Osunlade and James Curd (Greenskeepers), is a deep yet delicate house-fuelled journey for the heads. HUMAN BEHAVIOR’s sumptuous funk pop with Ultra’s Black Stereo Faith partner Quentin Harris, combines a Jamiroquai-esque celebration of bass guitar, orchestration and an effortlessly yearning lyric. New French wunderkind, Slowz wraps Ultra’s evocative melodies and vocal characters in his signature soultronica production with a distinct pop gloss on the selects LAZER and BITTER FRUIT. A meet up with deep house maverick, Tedd Patterson gives us the undulating RESTLESS which harkens back to Ultra’s early 90’s underground foundation with a scandalous and immediate bass-heavy groove. The indulgent masterpiece NEW LIFE (Running) finds Ultra finally reuniting with long time Mood II Swing collaborator, Lem Springsteen for an epic and optimistic dance floor escape from one’s own limits and confines.
The pandemic opened unique new collaborative opportunities for Ultra on the album, as she explains:“Since everyone was on hold everywhere, it was cool to be able to easily connect with some people I’ve always wanted to work with but hadn’t had the opportunity just yet. People that I have admired and been a fan of their work for many years. Running around the globe, in all kinds of party environments, you naturally run into peers you follow and whose music you appreciate. That was pretty much what happened on ULTRA.”
Ultra also unveiled her creative process during what were uncertain times, revealing an iron determination to deliver the highly personal piece of work on schedule, whatever it took, including engineering the album herself:
“The backing tracks I was working on would inspire the melodies and the feel of each song. Some things were personal relationship issues I was working through or stories I knew other people needed to hear, be inspired by or to celebrate! Many times, I focused on what it was going to feel like when isolation was over. The moment the clouds lifted, and we were able to move around again, with a sense of release and connectivity.
I also set deadlines for each song as I started developing them – no matter how distracted or off I might have been feeling – which gave me a framework to stay on track. The biggest difficulty was having to double as my own engineer while writing. Shifting focus back and forth from writer to vocalist is intense already, but also concentrating on “how” you’re capturing things is a whole different skill set. My main engineer/co- producer John ‘J-C’ Carr was such a huge asset in this process. Along with my management, even in that crazy period we worked like a well-oiled machine.”
Bringing it all to a close – and celebrating 25 years since its original release – is the ULTRA album bonus, an official 2022 production of Ultra’s beloved hit, FREE (LIVE YOUR LIFE), from Ibizan star Franco De Mulero and Dutch heavyweight Gregor Salto. Few songs match the sheer joy of Free, one reason why it has not only stood the test of time but continues to evolve and grow beyond the original 1997 classic. A powerhouse of a single, a vocal tour de force, it also encapsulates the message that Ultra weaves throughout the entirety of ULTRA, her 10th album. A message of hope, inclusiveness, and positivity, one that challenges us to find the good in life, to lift ourselves and those around us.
It’s why Ultra Naté remains so relevant to music today; her ability to find and strike that chord of joy within us runs through every single song she releases, every production she pens, every DJ set she spins, every album she puts her iconic name to. She is, quite simply, extraordinary. She is, ultimately, ULTRA.
ULTRA NATÉ: ULTRA
HAPPY FEELING [Russell Small & Dno P]
MIRACLE [Gianni Romano & Emanuele Esposito]
SUPERNATURAL [Funk Cartel]
SOLD OUT [Nightriders & Chris Willis]
RICH M’FK’s [Henrik Schwarz]
SURVIVOR [Tracy Young]
FUN [Blue Lab Beats]
THE GARDEN [Osunlade & James Curd]
HUMAN BEHAVIOR [Quentin Harris]
BITTER FRUIT [Slowz]
RESTLESS [Tedd Patterson]
NEW LIFE (RUNNING) [Lem Springsteen]
*FREE (Live Your Life)(Franco De Mulero & Gregor Salto Anniversary Mix)