Artist: Bat for Lashes
Album: The Haunted Man
There is something intensely sombre and moving about Natasha Khan’s new album. By stripping back the layers of electro so evident in her previous works we are left with the simple accompaniment and harmonic vocals of her latest endeavour, The Haunted Man. Nowhere is this dismantling more evident than in the single ‘Laura’, a bare piano ballad accompanied by a stately brass and string arrangement.
The single ‘All Your Gold’, which premiered at this year’s Electric Picnic, is somewhat reminiscent of a late 80s Kate Bush in the chorus as well as in the swirling, addictive bass-line. Echoes of Legend-era Clannad are heard in the autoharp-driven ‘Horses of the Sun’, enticing the listener into an almost mystical, half-shadowed world.
The album’s highlight is undoubtedly the pairing of ‘Laura’ and ‘Winter Fields’, two songs which work so well because of their soaring string arrangements. Although Khan has cited the film Ryan’s Daughter as an immeasurable influence, it is hard not to draw a comparison with Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love album as a point of reference for Khan’s writing.
It is difficult to find fault with The Haunted Man. Perhaps the only criticism lies in a lack of deviation in the album’s tempo, at times not allowing the listener to appreciate the dark masterful ballads in a slightly different light.
In a Nutshell: A calming and stripped-back approach to vocals and accompaniment.