After a few listens to this record, one begins to wonder whether the lady concerned has bagged a lucrative sponsorship deal with Frost’s or Wyevale’s, such is the lyrical emphasis on the mystical joys of garden plant life. Khamsina’s songs are a veritable herbaceous border of forget-me-nots, ivy, lavender (with associated bees), and for all I, know ericaceous compost and second early spuds. I can’t completely vouch for the latter, as I’ve usually nodded off before a given song finally makes an end.
About the only thing that isn’t wrong with this album is Khamsina’s voice. Crisp and sweet, it sparkles like the cider in one of those old Magners’ adverts (before they got all weird with elderly psychopaths plodding around country lanes with bees in their beards). She can occasionally be shrill, but in the main she sounds pretty convincing as a keening Celtic maiden from a piece of Erse poetry, languishing among the oaks and elms. If you harbour a lingering affection for the Cranberries (come on folks, it’s not as shameful as liking Crowded House!), you’ll greet Khamsina’s voice like an old friend.
Sadly, there are no tunes on this record as memorable as ‘Linger’ or ‘Zombie’. The pace is typically stately to the point of deathly and Khamsina can never deliver two verses when she can knock out five. I suppose Bat for Lashes (whom I hate) is a jumping off point to describe her sound, which is dominated by naively spooky, minor-key piano figures suffused with portentous synthetic strings and doomy, minimalist beats. She’s not averse to the odd cringeworthy sample either (gunshots, wind and a stonking great gong a la ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’), which help complete a sound world that’s both dull and cluttered.
Over a gargantuan thirteen tracks I can’t honestly find a single one that I can finish, never mind recommend, as Khamsina’s melodic and lyric writing is as weak as her voice is strong. The title track may be the best of the bunch for its opening piano gambit and a sturdy chorus but how can you make anything convincing out of such flabby abstractions as “We don’t have the same technology/10,000 years in the front and we’re losing/ but we will continue to play our mortal game/while they will keep on winning in the flame”?
Overall, then, I think I’d rather spend an afternoon at Dobbie’s chowing down on blood, bone and fish meal than listen to this stultifying, deadening record one more time.