Natasha Khan (aka Bat For Lashes) has done it again on her second album ‘Two Suns’. Her evocative, breathy style continues to beguile audiences as the mystical, enchanted landscapes of her psyche traversed in ‘Fur and Gold’ move into the metaphysical ‘emerald cities’ and constellations of heartbreak and recovery of ‘Two Suns’. Journeying is a more than apposite metaphor to describe listening to this album – the penultimate track is even entitled “Travelling Woman”.
Opening with faintly murmured lines from the Song of Solomon, itself a Biblical allegory of the relationship between the individual and God as husband and wife, we know instantly that this will be a spiritual and emotional journey. The tribal beats and cries which recall Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill” on “Glass” set our adrenaline going for an album which documents Natasha Khan’s response to a disintegrating relationship.
Her lyrics have an innate sense of the poetic; recent single “Daniel” describes the ‘cinders and rain’ of a relationship before a ‘sheet of rain’ falls down upon her heart, set to a haunting sound-scape which echoes Fleetwood Mac at their best.
Other tracks linger on planetary orbs of light and dark and an alter-ego called Pearl, showcasing a sustained interest in duality throughout Khan’s writing, whether it be the duality of the self; the relationship between lovers or the doubling within nature. The themes of duality are apparent on the exquisite album artwork: the beautiful front cover is surely influenced by Frida Kahlo’s work and is already my tip for best album sleeve of 2009.
Such beauty and attention to detail saturates Khan’s otherworldly yet accessible musical style, which knits together pop (“Daniel”), dance (“Pearl’s Dream” has a real Donna Summer vibe), spoken word (“Good Love”) and the avant-garde in wonderful symbiosis.
Her new band (which includes former Ash member Charlotte Hatherley) have built upon the experimental folk of ‘Fur and Gold’ to create a more electronic, physical sound which moulds itself around Khan’s misty, hypnotic vocals. She sounds like a mystical forest nymph yet expresses such longing and insecurity, we aren’t daunted by her ethereal presence; we empathise with her intricate poetic yearnings and reach the end of the album sharing her feeling of acceptance. Khan has the unique ability to hold our attention whilst weaving our emotional experiences into her song and is a natural star; the fact that she does so without compromising her vision merely increases her allure.
Bat For Lashes on amazon.co.uk
Bat For Lashes on amazon.com
Photo Credit: Brooke Nipar
By: Lindsey Davis