Natasha Bedingfield is back with another pocketful of sunshiny tunes. So what’s the deal with a that title guaranteed to raise eyebrows given her generally clean reputation? Has this popular U.K. singer traded the summer sun for something more sensual? Or is she just being cheeky, as the Brits might say?
Turns out the title track has nothing to do with nudity. Instead, “Strip Me” is about being who you really are. “And if you strip me, strip it all away/ … What would you find?” Natasha asks before telling listeners, “At the end of the day/It’s what you do and say/That makes you who you are.”
So, what does Natasha do and say here? Many if not most of her songs offer optimistic, hopeful takes on love and faithfulness. “Neon Lights” finds a woman promising her skeptical man that their love has what it takes to go the distance. On “Try,” she fights for a relationship, saying, “I won’t let go, I won’t give up/And if we fight, we’ll only fight for us/ … If you love someone, then you try, try, try/ … Don’t throw us away, just because we’re broken/’Cause anything can mend.”
“Break Thru” encourages a struggling friend (or perhaps romantic partner) with this bit of soaring poetry: “I’d climb to the edge of the mountain for you/I’d go to the ends of the world to find you/We’ll dance in the shadows until we reach a breakthrough.” “No Mozart” pushes a man who’s emotionally reticent to articulate his true feelings.
The ballad “Recover” exudes hopefulness in the wake of some unnamed trial (“We will recover/The worst is over now/All those fires we’ve been walking through/And still we survived somehow”). The ’80s-esque rocker “All I Need” celebrates contentment (“All I need is what I’ve got/My soul is free and I’ve got more than enough”).
“No Mozart” includes suggestive double entendres as a woman compares a man’s sensual touch to the way he plays piano (“You already know how to touch me, well, it’s easy/ … Oh, it’s like playing the piano/Your fingers know just where to go”). On “Touch,” a woman sings about an all-night party that involves getting close to a man she likes (“Yeah, we dance/And we laugh/And we touch/Gonna party all night till the sun comes up”). A stray lyric on “Weightless” reads, “No one can touch you like me.” That song’s chorus also includes a repeated use of “b‑‑ch” in a context that arguably also critiques that vulgarity (“You told me, girl/To get your way/You’ve got to be a b‑‑ch”).
Natasha Bedingfield told Billboard magazine that the title of her latest effort was all about being real and finding the common ground she believes connects us all. “We’re united about our needs, our desires and our pain. All the different things we go through together,” she said. “Strip Me felt like it explains what the songs are about more than any other title I could think of. So it has a double meaning, but I think people kind of know me enough to know what I mean by it.”
So it turns out that Natasha is just being cheeky. Because almost everything here—with the exception of infrequent flirtations with sensual suggestiveness—lives up to her positive reputation of creating songs that exude an irrepressibly hopeful approach to life.