A string of songs with names of people as titles: Fur and Gold has “Prescilla” and “Sarah,” Two Suns‘ “Daniel” and two songs about her alter-ego Pearl (“Pearl’s Dream” and “Siren”) and now “Laura” for the upcoming The Hunted Man. Natasha Khan has skillfully and sometimes peaks into laudability in projecting different versions of “herself” in her songs, herself as a representation of the way she sees herself, she is seen, hopes to be seen and even as the contrast of all these . It could be taken that the characters made up for a “concept” is one imbibed out of frustration, desires or foretelling fate. In any occasion, it is the practice of this that makes a musician’s work a lot less boring and self-centered, than, let’s say referencing “I” and “me” all throughout the record. This, however, does not mean that the characteristics taken into life by these projections reflect the reality of its maker, like say how Two Suns ventures into cosmic-astro consciousness.
Except for “Daniel,” listeners are given a glimpse of that thinking, especially through Pearl where she is portrayed as a threatening yet loving persona— an inclination for affection but a powerlessness to her uncontrollable nature. “Till the siren come calling, calling/ It’s driving me evil, evil/ I was a heart breaker, I loved you/ The same way I do/ But I’ve got so much wickedness and sin/ My name is Pearl/And I’ll love you the best way I know how/My blonde curls slice through your heart,” Kahn confesses in “Siren.”
I got into this thing again when I heard Khan’s latest “Laura.” The name title did not come as a surprise but the words and the sparse piano reminiscent of a delicate Antony and the Johnson’s song moved me.
As her most dedicated work to date, the track sets itself apart from former Bat For Lashes songs, devoid of towering percussions and mounting build-ups. “Laura” slowly forms a fragile center which the befallen star stands still, ageing, lost of crown and “stuck in a pale blue dream.” The former diva, alluded in its storytelling, has gone past the glitter of fame. Like someone very dear to her, Khan charms her about the days of her reign (“can we dance upon the tables again?”) and memories remain like a burning euphemism, she declares “You’ll be famous for longer than then/ You’re name is tattooed on every boy’s skin/ Oh, Laura, you’re more than a superstar!”
The music video for “Laura” is directed by Noel Paul of That Go collective that visually explores the story within the song. A perfect companion, Paul’s work elaborates more with dramatic shots of Laura with whom Khan slow-dance for a while. Like a meeting of the present and the future, the dance works like a mirror which assumes that Khan could be singing a song to herself, a possible track to listen to when she herself has aged. Really powerful stuff to ponder about.
DOWNLOAD “Laura” by Bat For Lashes. (Updated external link)