In her supple, lullaby-like speaking voice, Natasha Khan slowly reels me in. She’s describing the story of “Glass,” the ambitious opener to Two Suns, her second album as Bat For Lashes. In the song, amidst hand drums, crashing cymbals, field recordings from a Brooklyn subway stop on the JMZ line and the sound your finger makes when you rub the rim of a half-filled glass, Khan’s vocals charge like an unbridled unicorn. She invites the listener to float into the middle distance and picture a castle made of crystal where watchmen in the towers point to a glass knight whose heart burns bright as the sun.
“Every time I get close, his heart vibrates, gets stronger and we get blinded by it,” Khan says. “So I try and make him a cloak made of rainbow colors to refract the light so we can be close, but every time we do, the suns in our chests set fire to everything. In the end, the two suns burning so hotly creates a third thing, a perfect white diamond that flings into space and we become two planets constantly orbiting, basking in each others light, always separated, but there is that diamond that remains.” This cosmic talk is all metaphor of course, cloaking the timeless themes that dominate Two Suns, as well as Khan’s experience making it: journey, love, struggle and resolution.
In music and in person, Khan has the ability to take what is personal and vault it into the surreal without losing any of its emotional impact. There is a confidence and calmness that allows her to speak of her strange visions as if they were common thoughts. She taps into a wistful desire to spend hours up in a tree scribbling stories in a spiral notebook and conjures memories of riding through pine forests on a lavender bike pretending it is a pony. But this realm Khan creates isn’t childlike, rather it’s fantastically transportive. She is able to access that sliver of self that remains crouching beneath a fort made of sheets and chairs where a friend whispers wonders in your ear.