bat for lashes

Natasha Khan, the extraordinarily lovely lady behind England’s Bat for Lashes, is, to put it bluntly, all that and a Tim Burton movie. (Sorry, but ‘a bag of chips’ just wouldn’t do this girl justice.)

On just her second performance in New York City, the 27 year-old Khan is quickly building a sizeable local audience, and, not surprisingly, a rabid fanbase of fawning girls who dress just like her and her captivating female ensemble of multi-instrumental musicians (two violins, guitar, keyboards, timpani, percussion). At the Knitting Factory on Wednesday night, the stage was surrounded by glittering headband-wearing wannabe faerie princesses who subsist on the Bat for Lashes experience. They feel every bell chime, every strum of the autoharp, every ghostly vocal care of Khan’s talented backing band, every nubile nuance.

Though she played just an hour, Khan left no audience members unsatisfied or without any doubts that she will soon enough be a shooting star. No, make that, a perfect hybrid of Bjork and PJ Harvey supernova (with a sprinkle of Joanna Newsom’s mythicism perhaps), once her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album Fur and Gold bows Stateside on July 31st on Caroline.bat for lashes

Clad in a seductively loose-fitting black tank-top (with aquamarine brassiere underneath) and shimmering silver skirt, Khan presented “Trophy” with a delicate tug on a bell string. A bass-heavy show-opener that exhibits her pitch-perfect vocal range and band’s adroit accompaniment, it gave way to the fragile longing of “Tahiti,” and a wondrously slinky “The Wizard.”

The emotional one-two punch of a Shangri-Las-esque “What’s a Girl to Do?” and mournful piano ballad “Sad Eyes” was a flawless centerpiece for the show. A sparse, reworked “Sarah” and enchanting “Prescilla” rounded out the main set. Only one tune was selected as an encore –“Moon and Moon” – replacing her incendiary take on Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”bat for lashes

Though she may love fairy tales, Khan is no damsel in distress. There is no need for us to climb a castle tower to liberate her. She might be here to rescue us all instead. I’m inclined to think we should let her.
–Carrie Alison/photos by Carrie Alison