Bat for Lashes: The Unadorned Woman

Derek Loosvelt/Photographed by Diggy Lloyd
On her first two album covers, British musician Natasha Khan, better known as Bat for Lashes, appears surrounded by fantastical imagery, wearing glitter, body paint, elaborate costumes and layers of gold accessories. But on her latest, out October 22, three days before she turns 33, Khan stands naked, wearing only a simple neck- lace and a nude man draped over her shoulders. As the black-and- white photo (shot by famed photographer Ryan McGinley) suggests, The Haunted Man is Khan's most revealing release yet.

"Early in the process of writing the record I turned up the vocals without using much reverb," says Khan, whose atmospheric goth rock takes inspiration from Björk and Kate Bush. "And I love reverb and washes and layers. So stripping back was a bold move. It put me in a vulnerable position. But it was also empowering."

Unlike her last album (2009's critically acclaimed Two Suns), Khan conceived The Haunted Man in her native U.K. "I wrote the last record while touring and living in the U.S.," says the one-time resident of Brooklyn. "I was adrift. But for this one, I stayed in England. I visited places I hadn't been in a long time. I looked back at family events that have haunted me."

Although the emotional core of the new album lies in its title track -- which couples snare drums and a cappella arrangements, conjuring soldiers returning from battle -- its highlight is "Laura," a grand 1970s-esque ballad featuring Khan's amped-up voice, accompanied by understated piano and strings. Khan, who wrote "Laura" after a "very personal night with a close friend," also composed its equally stunning video, down to location, wardrobe, choreography and casting. In fact, nearly everything in the Bat for Lashes universe is Khan's conception -- including The Haunted Man's cover art. "I wanted to see if I had the confidence not to adorn myself -- if I could communicate something deeply emotional without dressing up," says Khan. I'm not Photoshopped. I'm not wearing makeup. I'm not hiding behind anything."

★ The Haunted Man is out October 22nd. ★

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