on 20 February 2009
This is not a review of the album as such (seeing as the album's not even been released yet) but rather a review of the individual songs and Karima as an artist.
I've been a fan of Karima since I first heard her back in the middle of 2006. She was pretty much unknown back then, and I listened to some of her old tracks on her Myspace page religiously. Even then, at the tender age of 19 and with relatively simplistic numbers (a mere shadow of some of the songs she would go on to write) , I couldn't help but be astounded by her incredible voice and range. I knew that, given time, this girl would be big...and here she is.
Fast forward nearly three years, and what we have now is an incredibly heartfelt, natural, talented young woman, capable of silencing an audience from her first note. Late 2008, Karima supported Natty, the London based straight talking reggae singer. One would expect, that, as is usual when most support bands come on, most people continue their conversations and watch the support band half-interested. Karima arrived on stage with her tiny frame, timid posture and big hair, and I could almost hear people thinking 'whats so different about this one?'. From the first note of her incredible song 'The Author', the whole audience were gazing at her in silent astoundment, and that is the ability of Karima, to captivate the most biased of audience. I had many people that night asking me who 'that woman' was, and with a certain amount of pride I said 'she's Karima Francis'...
With regards this album, I have been waiting so long for it, years in fact, and it has been a long time in the making. The release date has been under much speculation, but I remember talking to Karima about it and she said 'I am happy with the pace...its happened naturally' and it has that. I suggest to anyone that likes Tracy Chapman, or any other soulful acoustic singers to go out and buy this record. If you're unsure watch her on 'youtube', as she's spent many years performing and perfecting these songs so now, on the album, they are pure bliss.
I'd say the album is split into two definite parts the first part (after the author) has catchy, upbeat tunes, paving the way for the second part of the album, which has slower delicate songs (with the exception of Oh Laura). I have put together a track-by-track guide to the album.
'The Author' as an album opener is a brilliant choice. It starts 'I want to tell you a story', soaring to the crescendo 'I am the author, you are the queen'...Its completely enthralling.
'Again' is an upbeat song with a catchy tune, which will get you hooked straight away. It's Karima's first mainstream song, with BBC Radio 2 coverage, and a music video!
'Chasing the Morning Light' is a brilliant combination of heartfelt lyrics and another catchy melody. Released on 7'' vinyl with 'Forever'.
'Francis' is a brilliant acoustic anthem, which is amazing live, in my opinion discussing Karima's change in lifestyle since becoming a professional musician.
'Hold You' is beautiful. My favourite song by Karima. It is a captivating love song, which, much to my disappointment has been changed from the live version. Originally it was Karima and a guitar, showcasing Karima's amazing voice, however for the album alot more facets have been added to it. Who knows, it may grow on me, but I thought out of all the songs, Hold You was the one song which showed vulnerability and love and emotion and power yet the arrangement was so simple. Definitely go and see her live, even if just for this song!
'Morse Code' is another song that shows how amazing Karima's voice. A true love song, this song is one to look out for on the album.
'Remember Your Name'. WOW. This song is one for the concerts. It's a deeply personal song that spans from Karima's childhood. When Karima headlined Manchester Academy, this was a show stopper- unbelieveable. I can't wait to see how this songs been adapted for the album.
'Oh Laura'. Complete and utter classic. Another love song, however the tempo is alot more upbeat.
'Forever'. After Hold You this is my favourite. Unbelievable song. Powerful, raw, emotional...AMAZING! Another live favourite of mine.
'Laurel Avenue'. A brilliant end to what I know will be a brilliant album. The ending to this song is phenonmenal. Definitely one to watch.
Overall, knowing all the songs, I am very very very excited for this album, and I know it won't disappoint! If anyone gets the chance, go and see Karima live as that is when she is in her elemet. The emotion can only truly be conveyed with the tiny Karima singing from her soul right in front of your eyes. I have converted many a hard music follower to devout fans, just by hearing her spine tingling songs live...See for yourself.