Bat for Lashes, aka English singer/songwriter Natasha Khan, says she “went through a lot of changes” making new album “The Haunted Man,” out this week. The dramatic, occasionally orchestral 11-song follow up to 2009’s “Two Suns,” she tells Billboard in a video track-by-track interview (watch in the video player above), was ironically born of creative efforts Khan took to overcome writer’s block. “I felt quite blocked musically,” Bat For Lashes says, adding that it was drawing, painting, and watching films that started the inspiration flowing. “In the end I think that nourishment led to start to write the songs on the album. But [it] took two-and-a-half-years of quite grueling work.”
The results of that grueling work, however, are anything but. Bat For Lashes found the “vision of this album having much stronger vocal presence” while doing early demos in her home studio. That vocal presence soars through all of the songs on “The Haunted Man,” particularly the title track (which incorporates a men’s choir) and the “heady, sensual” song “Oh Yeah,” which she debuted live in Sydney before the vocals were even finished.
A number of other elements came in to play for rounding out “The Haunted Man”‘s sound, which ranges from brooding (“Deep Sea Diver” to pop-friendly (“All Your Gold,” “Rest Your Head.”). Beck contributed guitar work (“Marilyn”). A songwriting collaboration with Justin Parker, who has worked with Lana del Rey, Khan says was “a really good risk taking experience” that resulted in the single “Laura,” which also features a full orchestra. She cites cinematic inspirations for a number of songs including “Lillies,” and “Marilyn,” the later of which was written after she saw the film “Drive,” and the former of which, based on a scene in the 1970 David Lean movie “Ryan’s Daughter,” opened the creative floodgates. “I felt like I was never going to be able to write a song again,” she says, and once saw “Ryan’s Daughter,” “All of the sudden I felt this rush of inspiration.”