Karima Francis: The Remedy (Mercury)
“The Remedy”Â is the follow up to Karima Francis’ 2009 debut album “The Author”Â released in the year that the Observer hailed her as the number 1 act to watch. It was met with mixed reviews; an incredible voice that perhaps was let down on occasion by the quality of some of the songwriting. Three years have passed since then so how has her talent moved on?
“Help me”Â Karima begs in the opening words of the album and title track “The Remedy”Â in which the Tracy Chapman references are already here before going into, dare I say, Alanis Morrisette mode for “Tonight”Â. Now I’m at risk of relating every song to some other female singer as with “Glory Days”Â (see below) we hit Adele-esque heights in terms of lyrics and the rising chorus which is only marred for me by the strange instrumental noise in the background; I think it’s an instrument but it could also be a dog biting a rubber police car toy.
“Arrest You”Â is a finger plucking ballad that lets Francis show the tender side of her powerful voice and for a moment as the choir leads us out and “Stay”Â starts we could be at any point on Damien Rice’s album “O”Â. That said, the mid-section of this album is the strongest for me from “Glory Days”Â to “Stay”Â. Following that it, well, kinda just stays where it is. Whilst the lyrics continue in their ‘heart on your sleeve’ honesty and the voice moves from fragile to sensational I feel it’s not giving much more than the first two thirds of the album did.
There were personal problems around the launch of her debut album which meant that this follow up album has taken three years to appear; but in truth, I imagine there were times she thought there wouldn’t be one at all. Karima’s lyrics hint at the dark times and having seen her live I feel there’s another level of power and emotion in her voice that this record still doesn’t quite capture. That said, it’s well worth a listen, but be warned that you’ll probably wear it out quickly.
It’s great to see that Karima’s back and I hope this means that the next venture will be a little more daring, a little more confident and a little more removed from the safety of the sound-alikes.