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Kadhja Bonet
Childqueen Diva Harris , May 31st, 2018 06:47

From the back seat of an intergalactic Ford Pinto, possibly driven by Minnie Riperton, a supernaturally excellent album

Legend has it that Kadhja Bonet was born in 1784, in the back seat of an intergalactic seafoam-green Ford Pinto. Her glittering, celestial debut The Visitor - an eight-song album of baroque and stardust-smattered R&B/soul/jazz beamed down for earthly consumption back in 2016 - can certainly be taken as evidence for this claim. Now, the Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist returns with Childqueen, which retains stylistic elements of The Visitor but packs a groovier, struttier punch.

At the start, Bonet looms over Childqueen as serene Earth Mother. Although she possesses a voice frequently compared to that of a Disney princess, an entirely opposite sentiment lurks beneath its sweetness; hers is undoubtedly a realm under matriarchal rule. On opening song ‘Procession’, Bonet repeats, over a dampened marching band drumline, “Every morning brings a chance to renew / chance to renew.” The incantation offers us redemption, rebirth, revival. We are urged onwards and upwards, until we collide headlong with the cascading, knife-sharp strings which open the second, title track - likely played by Bonet herself, like most of the instruments on the record. That the song’s muffled lyrics are fairly indecipherable is irrelevant: there is enough in its wine-glass tinks and warped bird-squeaks to evoke the mythical world of the titular childqueen - a being, invented by Bonet, who represents “the innermost version of ourselves which existed truthfully and instinctively before the weight of the world came crushing in.” Maybe take a second to get your head round that one. So far, so transcendental.

From here, a shift in gear: rejoice, for on we travel to ‘Another Time Lover’, where those funky basslines begin to creep in. This is a warmer, more soulful number, gloriously reminiscent of Rotary Connection’s ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’, and just the first of many instances where the influence of Minnie Riperton makes itself clearly heard. Indeed, the more you play the album, the more the image is cemented: Riperton as patron saint of this parish. Her apparition is so vivid on lead single ‘Mother Maybe’ that Bonet’s voice, the hair-raising high notes, could almost be mistaken for Riperton’s. The track’s blaring brass echoes Cheryl Lynn’s ‘Got To Be Real’ somewhat, too. But there is more than enough Kadhja Bonet in there – in the deeply romantic lyrics for example, with frequent references to the natural world (“You're the quiet forming cloud / you're the nebula that pulls a glow from emptiness / You’re the deep and secret sea / Acquiesce in colours siphoned from the love that is me”) – for the song to stand as its own distinct and compelling entity.

The whole of Childqueen was written, sung, played, produced and mixed by Bonet; she’s quite a force of nature. Or rather - with her ability to shape-shift from alien to deity to illustrious soul singer – she is a force of supernature.