Naturally 7’s hook is that they don’t play instruments. Instead, seven beatboxes in this New York-hatched group harmonize and vocally emulate synth, bass and guitar. It’s impressive on record and doubtless more so live.
N7, who’ve found a strong fan base in Europe, use 90s R&B as their guiding light to fashion the “urban barbershop” sound pioneered by Boyz II Men and ripped off by countless other pop-R&B groups with numbers in their names. The Naturally 7 difference is all the vocal acrobatics – in bridge parts, choruses and outros – that elevate the generic songwriting.
Take N7’s cover of Phil Collins’s In The Air Tonight, which has been remade ad nauseam by hiphop artists. Despite the rewritten verses, their operatics and mouth drums are really the only things keeping it fresh here. A few other times, it sounds like they’re doing that mid-tempo, major-key 98 Degrees-style boy band fare with the raindrop beat. But vocally there’s no comparison – these guys can really sing.
Naturally 7 take flight at the Air Canada Centre with Michael Bublé on January 24.