July 25, 2006

Lost classics: Lamya, the "Lone Bohemian"

I've decided to do some posts about some records I liked that tanked in a major way, but are still worthy of your time and precious dinero... to repeat a phrase I've uttered oh-so-much in my lifetime, watch out, this is a long one...

The first is the sad case of hippie chick diva Lamya. I first became aware of the African chantuese, raised in Sheffield, when she sang backup for Duran Duran on their excellent 1994 Unplugged. She caught my ear when she did a mindmelting solo on the beautiful ballad Come Undone. I never forgot her and hunted high and low for that song for years.

In July of 2002, she suddenly reappeared as a solo artist (or maybe solo will o'the wisp?) with some very big money behind her thanks to Clive Davis and his newly formed J Records. Her debut album, Learning From Falling, was produced by no less than Nellee Hooper (famous for his work with Bjork and Massive Attack), Mark Ronson, and David Kahne, among others. Clive even hired Jean Baptiste Mondino to shoot her album cover (see pics on this post). Though imperfect, Learning should have sold much more than it did and quickly careened into cutout bins.

Among the highlights were opener Empires, a sonic boom of a song with nutty lyrics about wanting "men to match my mountains." Tittyfuck ode or metaphorical delight? Doesn't matter, because you gotta love a song that has such awesome rolling timpani. Never Enough is a great fuck-you pop/rock track with a cutting lyric about living with an addict: "Well, that's my life / That you're throwing / Down the back of your throat / Hey, and those are my dreams / Heading for an overdose."

The record was incredibly polished for a first album, as if she had been planning it her whole life. Black Mona Lisa is my favorite: a granola-feminista anthem, especially in its remixed form at the end of the CD. Referencing the Nat King Cole classic in the chorus, there was a bit that leapt out at me each time I listened: "I used to be a connoisseur / Of hate, self hate, paternal hate." Diva's been in therapy! I love it when she sings,
"I am an island / A little freak of melancholy."

Never's Such a Long Time is a beautiful midtempo with a lyric that appears to be sung to suddenly dead rock star she was fucking. Hmmm. You know these background girls. Who was it!? I love the geeky lyric: "Why didn't I just call one day / To just to say / Hey, I think you're such a legend?" Yeah, why not Lamya? She even had the cajones to cover Nick Drake's Pink Moon without slaughtering it.

Buy this CD cheap from Amazon. You have nothing to lose! There's something slightly kitschy about this record, but she really is quite accomplished - I wish she'd do more music. If you run into sweet Lamya on the streets of London, give her a kiss for me.

thanks to Paul Soychak for the Duran WMA file!


countpopula said...

You amaze me every day with your fantastic-yet-obscure choices. We may be two of the last people on the planet that own copies of this CD. I loved it when it came out (especially the aforementioned tracks and title song), and I still love it a few years later. It just proves that not everything Clive touches turns to hits, but she had some SERIOUS star potential on the level of Sade...what a wasted opportunity. Thanks for your beautiful post!

DanProject76 said...

I've got that CD as well.

No surprises as we appear to have the same record collection!

lucas said...

Ditto, I have it too....bring me men to match my mountains...XO, you make me think my taste in music isn't so bad!

Trasha said...

i love lamya!!! i also have "learning from falling" and it's brilliant.

i'm so happy we have so much in common. :)

xolondon said...

Well Lamya should read this blog and feel LOVED UP! Come and be my friend, black Mona Lisa!

Chris Krakora said...

I also have to mention "East Of Anywhere" from that album as well.

BTW a few months ago the dance remixes of "Empires" were re-released on iTunes. I really like the Widelife Main Room Tribal Mix.

xolondon said...

I agree re East Of Anywhere, Chris. Good song.

Anonymous said...

oh man...
thanks for informing me of her duran duran collabo.
"come undone" always manages to bring me to tears.

i still love and adore lamya...
i miss her.

i love that eastern tinge she's got on all her tracks.
all those you've listed are superb.
but "the woman who" should be noted as well.
it's expansive and grand, yet subtle and demure.

i like that you mention res in the beginning of the post.
she's got a new album in the works...
good stuff... still great, live.

lookin over your recent posts...
and i'm lovin all the annie lennox stuff.
man, she's fuckin brilliant.
somd's production is so lush and ethereal... and as soulful as annie's ever gotten.
all the ballads are so killer... i can't pick a fav.
but i really want to see "sing" performed live... that should be a sight to see!

man... the women of the world need to unite and take over the reigns!
life would be so much better!

xolondon said...

Thanks for commenting Alan! Welcome...