A little kookiness can go a long way in pop, and singer-songwriter Natasha Khan made quite an impact after she emerged ten years ago sporting a feathered head-prom dresses 2016 while singing quirky songs that seemed to inhabit their own mystical world.

Adopting the stage name Bat For Lashes, she toured with Coldplay, was compared to Kate Bush, and made two Top Ten albums.

A little kookiness can go a long way in pop, and singer-songwriter Natasha Khan made quite an impact after she emerged ten years ago sporting a feathered head-dress while singing quirky songs

But there comes a time when even the most eccentric performers have to step up their game — and Khan does just that on The Bride.

An ambitious concept album about a woman whose wedding day goes horribly wrong, it frames the 36-year-old from Brighton as a musician with vision, bite and a flair for drama.

Khan’s father Rehmat and uncle Jahangir are members of the celebrated Khan squash-playing dynasty, and the singer says her expressive instincts can be traced back to seeing their big matches first-hand as a youngster.

There are plenty of intriguing twists here, despite a fictional plot that could be the screenplay to a tacky B-movie. The album begins with Natasha playing the blushing bride-to-be, imagining a happy-ever-after life of hearts and flowers, her crystalline falsetto accompanied by glimmering harp on I Do and starry-eyed keyboards on Joe’s Dream.

Storm clouds then start to gather. By the third track, In God’s House, the ‘promise of wedding lace’ is fading as she finds herself at the altar with no sign of a groom.

As the song finishes amid the screech of car brakes, the reason soon becomes clear.

Devastated by the death of her fiancé in circumstances reminiscent of the kitsch, tragedy-pop hits of the Sixties — think Leader Of The Pack by the Shangri-Las — Khan rushes from the scene and starts to reflect on love and loss over a set of songs that are best listened to as a whole rather than in bite-sized chunks.

On Honeymooning Alone, she bemoans her lot as ‘the girl that was denied’.

Her grief intensifies on slow lament Never Forgive The Angels before things take a bizarre turn on the poised string ballad Close Encounters, in which she falls in love with her late fiancé’s apparition in an echo of Demi Moore’s Hollywood tear-jerker Ghost.

There are hopeful signs on I Will Love Again and Sunday Love, delivered with the panache of a woman ready to move on, but the prospect of a happy ending is left hanging.

Closing track In Your Bed suggests she has found romance again, although the piano ballads preceding it hint that the whole tale is really an allegorical exercise in self-discovery. But, as a statement of musical intent, The Bride is Khan’s most powerful and fully-realised record yet.

 

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