The concept album has earned a somewhat cheesy reputation, but English songstress Natasha Khan’s The Bride is an accomplishment in storytelling. The eponymous bride is left jilted at the altar on her wedding day only to discover that Joe, her husband-to-be, has died in a car crash. The devastated bride decides to embark on their honeymoon alone and begin the cycle of grief and recovery. The instrumentation throughout the record is minimal, which allows Khan’s stunning voice—and her lyrics—to command the listener’s attention.
“In God’s House” captures the bride’s disappointment as she waits for Joe. Her fear that she has been stood up gives way to her learning about the accident that has befallen her love. “What’s this I see? Fire,” she repeats. As she reaches the upper part of her vocal range, her voice nearly sounds like a cry. The next song, “Honeymooning Alone,” begins with the sound of a crash before the bride mourns being alone in her own car, cheated of her future. “Never Forgive the Angels” features choral backing vocals that evoke a church, while “Widow’s Peak” is a hypnotic, spoken-word that explores some place beyond the mortal world.
If there is one shortcoming on The Bride, it’s that the second half works together almost too well. It’s difficult to pull the songs apart and analyze them out of context as the bride comes to terms with her grief and finds herself able to take a new lover and move on. However, this speaks more to the importance of listening to the album from beginning to end in a generation obsessed with singles and shuffling, and I admire Khan for being bold enough to make this beautiful, fragile artistic statement.