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Album Review: Karima Francis – The Remedy

It’s been a tough old time for the bushy haired 25-year-old songstress since the release of her debut album in 2009.The Author was anticipated by many critics to be the great monolith among new music at the time. Being compared to the likes of Joan Armatrading, she even snatched the label of “the next big thing” along the way from our paragon of musical knowledge The Daily Mail. Unfortunately everything came crumbling down for the Blackpool-born singer-songwriter after the album received a tepid reception; and to make matters worse, Francis fell ill with anorexia during promotion of the album, putting a long pause on her career.

Francis’s second studio album could be seen as a second chance for Francis – a chance to rebuild the pieces of her revoked success.  “They are weak but strong, / [Those] who fail but carry on” , Francis sings in her centrepiece track ‘Glory Days’. The power of her vocals in this track insinuates that she’s been waiting years to proclaim these words, and with such distinguishable tone to her voice could she one day belong to the club of divadom, à la Winehouse? A resounding chorus of trumpets almost too translucently try to promote her power and pigeonhole her as such diva.

Apart from ‘Glory Days’, a more Adele-esque, self-pitying approach seeps through most of the album. Francis broke up with her girlfriend during the making of The Author and so it is only natural that her experience with it has been reflected within. This makes it a more pensive listen; do not listen to this album if you are in the process of mourning over an ex – you will weep floods of tears to remarkably remorseful tracks such as ‘Wherever I Go’.

So this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but then again the whole sombre power ballad thing worked for so many of her predecessors, and contemporaries to boot. We love it when famous musicians can empathise with us through sad times. In this sense, the key to Francis’ success will not be in innovation; she has not invented a quirky new sound, but it’s all about her voice and her audience connecting with her honest and heartfelt lyrics.

Karima’s voice screams with an androgynous lilt, similar to Tracy Chapman or Nina Simone, making it hard to distinguish her gender if you’d never heard her before; she even looks like she fell into Bob Dylan’s wardrobe (in a good way). It’s a shame this intriguing, multifaceted personality of hers isn’t reflected more in her songs; and despite ample creative melodies and ear-catching vocal adornments, the album does at times feel as though it’s lacking much disparity between each of the songs. Prominent tracks such as ‘The Remedy’ and ‘Forgiven’ overshadow the rest of the album, and in the words of Jamie T could it be a case of more “filler, no thriller”? It just lacks that extra bite that makes you want to listen to an album, uninterrupted, from start to finish.

Putting all negative criticisms aside, The Remedy shows an exceptional attempt by Francis to show that she is back, and with a vengeance to claim the credibility that was so rightfully hers back in the days of The Author.

-George Palmer

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