Natasha Khan stamps her authority as Britain’s quirky songstress writes Thomas Howe
The image of the alluringly unorthodox Natasha Khan standing naked on the cover of The Haunted Man is immediately dazzling. It’s an illustration of the idiosyncrasies that have propelled her to stardom, suggesting that she has nothing to hide.
On the back of two Mercury prize nominations the maturing 33 year-old Khan has evidently been teetering on the edge of global success for the latter part of the decade. The release of 2009’s Two Suns emphasised her status as an unconventional multi-instrumentalist but the follow up appears to be a more obvious pursuit of mainstream success. The amalgamation of sensual pop and habitual art rock will live long in the memory.
The bulk of the record is largely influenced by eighties electro-pop. Marilyn is a thumping ballad with a drumbeat reminiscent of Ultravox’s timeless classic Vienna. Similarly, the percussion for A Wall is a faithful replication of Running Up That Hill, subsequently stoking the fire for the continuous Kate Bush comparison. In contrast, All Your Gold and the magnificent Laura are the theatrical pop songs that will circle round your head and propagate success. Josh Parker, co-writer of Lana Del Rey’s equally enthralling Video Games, was enlisted for his composing aptitude on Laura. The delicate piano arrangement and triumphant chorus assert its authority as the album’s stand out track.
Whilst it may unsettle loyal fans The Haunted Man depicts the blossoming Natasha Khan in subtle transition, from vulnerable songwriter to triumphant popstar, seeking the long-awaited recognition that her irrefutable talent deserves.