Here, she's in brittle, bare-bones mode
“There’s been a lot of magic, symbolic visual stuff going around lately,” confides Natasha Khan in the new issue of [i]NME[/i]. “And I started to feel like it had been overplayed a bit.” She’s talking about that album cover: the one which sees Bat For Lashes in the buff, with naught to cover her modesty save for an equally starkers Adomos draped over her shoulders. And, despite those waspish undertones, our Natasha’s been a tad guilty of the old ‘too much style, too little substance’ transgression in the past, too. Just take a quick butchers at the lavish, jewel-encrusted artwork for 2009’s ‘Two Suns’: an album which tried to sketch a fantasy universe of dark sorcery, glittering cities and star-crossed lovers, but occasionally sagged under the weight of its own bombast, the wooly metaphysical concepts and muddled alter-egos, instead.
The ‘Haunted Man’, then – her third album, out in October – promises to be more naked, in every sense of the word. And so it is with ‘Laura’. Cast your mind back to 2009 and ‘Daniel’, the lead single from ‘Two Suns’ a ginormous, Fleetwood Mac-tinged ode to soul-rattling passion and Hollywood-style burning love, all fireworks and explosions in the sky. Here, though, Khan’s in brittle, bare-bones mode – plumping for a deft, heartfelt ballad which floats upon somber piano and delicate horns – and, rather than staring dreamily into a lover’s eyes, she’s offering crumbs of comfort to a friend who’s still stuck in an adolescent rut. “[i]You say they’ve all left you behind[/i],” she murmurs to our heroine, her voice cracked and broken, before it crackles into full-flight in the womping chorus: “[i]You’re the glitter in the dark/ Oooh Laura, you’re more than a superstar/ You’ll be famous for longer than them/ Your name is tattooed on every boy’s skin.[/i]” If only we all had friends like her to pull us out of a funk, eh?