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Baker's Dozen

Sonic DNA: Natasha Khan Of Bat For Lashes’ Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , May 7th, 2013 08:50

As part of our series of articles previewing this year's Field Day Festival, Natasha Khan roots through her record collection to pick out her 13 top LPs


Joni Mitchell - Blue
I was only about 13 when I heard it and it was another one that I played a lot in my bedroom. There was a trilogy of females, which was Joni Mitchell's Blue, Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love and Bjork's Debut that I discovered when I was 12 and obviously had a huge impact on me. But Joni Mitchell, for me, her voice is like an instrument, the same as Bjork's - I just loved hearing a woman's voice that sounded so free and was doing weird things to my brain, pulling it around. How do you even talk about something like this? You just end up saying a load of cliches! There's songs like 'River' and 'Blue' and I didn't know anything really as a 13-year-old about California and Laurel Canyon and the psychedelic 60s and what had happened to everybody, the disenchantment they maybe felt later on. I didn't really understand the background of that, yet there was this woman coming out of my speaker, her feminine energy and her freedom, her expression, her unapologetic rawness, again, and the beauty and competence, and weird tunings, it all completely made sense to me. It all sounded like this amazing place that smelt like pine trees and had golden, yellow sunshine and long hair and tapestries and curtains and cats and guitars. I thought: "What is this place that this woman is talking about?" Actually it's just this universe inside of her, she's like this amazing building full of beautiful things, so complex and so deep and intellectual. I just think she's fully competent on so many levels!

I was listening to Carole King, Tapestry, at the time, and that's another beautiful record, but Joni Mitchell's is just emotionally more complex. It was meandering and had movements and parts to it and her voice would soar. There's that bit where she's saying, "hell's the hippest way to go, I don't think so but I'm going to take a look around it": there's that onset of disenchantment, where she's sick of this bullshit, and Joni Mitchell's so good at seeing through the bullshit - it's not this throwaway, idealistic, hippy kind of thing, she's always burrowing a little bit under the surface. As a young girl, hearing women talk about travelling, going on an aeroplane, missing California, being in Paris, seeing some guy playing guitar and writing a love note on a napkin to her. It's like good life experience, listening to that through someone else.