Classically trained multi-instrumentalist Kadhja Bonet has a singular vision for her music that is refreshing in a world where music is increasingly written by committee. On her new album Childqueen she has written, arranged and produced the songs, played most of the instruments and even designed the artwork herself. The result is an astounding album of original music which sounds refreshingly out of time.
The album beings with hope, Every morning brings the chance to renew, she sings over and over so it becomes a quiet mantra. Yet soon you wonder whether the prospect of renewal is always so joyful: in its repetition there is an underlying sense of uncertainty as well as freedom. Just wanting to change and start again doesn’t always mean that you are able to have your chance. Procession makes delightful use of the flute, an instrument which always sounds so perfectly feminine in its expression and adds an unexpected texture to this song (and also on the wonderful Joy.)
In the beginning of title track Childqueen we hear a sound reminiscent of the soul classics before the song swirls into a blissful hazy dream. I listened to this with my windows open and couldn’t tell whether the birdsong was on the record or coming from outside, such is the perfect blend of natural beauty in Bonet’s music.
Similarly Another Time Lover takes inspiration from seventies soul but that’s just the beginning of its chrysalis. You can’t help but admire the blend of instruments and rich choral sounds throughout. Delphine and Wings introduce a more funky style of baseline and beats, creating an unusual groove. On Delphine her voice reaches and stretches to the skies. Elsewhere on songs like Thoughts for Tea she layers her voice to build a dramatically harmonious sound.
Second Wind and Mother Maybe have a filmic quality to their sound and yes maybe this whole album could be the soundtrack to some lost cult movie. I listened to in a heatwave and the slightly out of focus weird mood these songs created suited the freak weather perfectly.
Don’t ask me to define the genre or category of Bonet’s music or ask me to draw conclusions about what her lyrics mean because everything here is so otherworldly to try to analyse like that feels impossible. Just sit back and let Childqueen take you to another time, another place, another world entirely. Music this bewitching and beguiling deserves to be heard across this whole universe and beyond.