The role of electronica chanteuse is close to becoming played out. Having run its course through trip-hop and all other hybridizations of synth music, there’s not much left to do for soft-voiced girls fronting serene audio ephemera. Despite this obstacle of irrelevance, Natalie Walker makes a decent case for keeping her career going at least. Urban Angel begins with the gorgeous synthetic country of “Crush.” If there is ever a James Bond film set in the desert, this languid, elegant song deserves to be its theme. “Rest Easy” keeps the tempo moving, melding unique blips and beeps to an upbeat, playful melody.
Walker surrenders more and more to the trappings of the genre as the album progresses. “Quicksand” and the title track are both fraught with wispy somnambulant deliveries over mixtures of programmed beats and live instrumentation. Neither would sound out of place on a Dido or Sarah McLachlan album from a decade ago. This is ultimately the downfall of this disc; Walker’s personal flourishes and attempts to revitalize this genre occur too sparingly to have an effect on the album as a whole. It’s certainly enough to please long-time fans of the genre on the lookout for slight variations on a familiar theme, but what the casual listener is left with is something not nearly as commanding as forerunners like Portishead or Beth Orton have to offer in their back catalogs.