After a decade fronting one of Los Angeles’ premiere indie bands, Bethany Cosentino is embarking on her most vulnerable journey yet: her first solo album. Natural Disaster, Cosentino’s new album, is the unfiltered artist statement that she always dreamed of, but never quite had the chance to fulfill during her tenure in Best Coast with fellow Los Angeles musician, Bob Bruno.
“It was a combination of the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life and the fucking hardest, most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I just tried to allow those two things to coexist,” Cosentino tells Consequence of the double-edged sword of recording Natural Disaster. The feeling mirrors the time in which the album was created, as it was written during the pandemic in Nashville and LA before being recorded with Butch Walker over the last few years.
Upon the first few listens of Natural Disaster, it’s easy to note the stylistic shift from the breezy, reverb-heavy sounds of Best Coast to the more raw, ’90s-influenced hues of Cosentino’s solo work. Amidst many influences — Bonnie Raitt, The Chicks, Indigo Girls, Jenny Lewis — perhaps the most prominent was Sheryl Crow. Fittingly, as I join our video call, Cosentino is seated in front of a large poster of Crow herself.
“I’ve always been such a massive fan of hers,” Cosentino says. “I hate saying the word badass, cause it just feels so corny, but if you looked up ‘badass’ in the dictionary, I feel like Sheryl Crow’s photo is right there!” Her reverence for Crow, as well as those other ’90s country-adjacent singer-songwriters, was a major guiding light when crafting the songs for Natural Disaster. “I really wanted to make a record that felt like it was influenced by all of the stuff that I grew up on, all of the things that I’ve always loved, and really the things that I’ve always listened to that never were able to make their way into a Best Coast record.”
In short, Cosentino is creating from a different part of herself, and honesty is a major pillar of the album. She’s embracing the personal ups and downs of being in her 30s and embarking on her first solo album experience — and, of course, surviving wildfires and a global pandemic at the same time. Natural Disaster’s title track seems to acknowledge these themes head on: “This is the hottest summer I can ever remember/ Because the world is on fire/ And hey, if we’re all dying, then what does it matter?/ We’re a natural disaster.”
Despite the rather nihilistic tone in the lyrics, Cosentino delivers this chorus with a sunny, harmony-laden smile, finding joy in such a complicated place. About “Natural Disaster,” Cosentino says, “I was starting to think about what it felt like in the summer of 2020, living in Los Angeles, living through the chaos of COVID, the chaos of protests about racial inequality… to me, it felt like ‘what the fuck is going on?'” But Cosentino assures that it wasn’t the right move to be “doom and gloom about it” — instead, she wondered how she could touch on the energy of “The horror show of America,” how she could center the album around describing both the natural disaster of 2020 at large as well as her own personal “disaster.”