It was never supposed to be like this. Karima Francis, should, by rights, be on a par with Adele, but for all of her efforts whilst promoting 2009 debut The Author, such world-beating scenarios never came to pass. That album was promising, but she never got the chance to light a fire under her career; she was diagnosed with anorexia just as things were getting going.
She had to take a hiatus from music, but the inner turmoil that she went through could not be ignored. She had to do something about it – so she wrote about it. She pulled herself out of the hole she had fallen into. But ask her why she kept trying and she’ll answer that she did it for her music, not for herself. Francis eats, sleeps and breathes music, and it’s a testament to her own self-belief that not only was she able to return to it, but make an album so stark and personal that she would be forgiven for not wanting to perform some of it live. The Remedy is brutally honest in discussing her emotional state back in those troubled times; its title track pulls no punches, and it gets no lighter from there.
In spite of it all, she kept going, and the resulting work is an album shot through with optimism, even if it’s usually balanced out. On the strings-assisted recent single Glory Days, Karima’s message is first that “they are weak but strong who fail but carry on”, but later she opines that “our glory days are over”. If she sounds conflicted, it’s because she is, and it’s little wonder why. On top of what she had to go through, she split up with her girlfriend whilst making the album, and this is documented in Wherever I Go, a song that cuts right to the record’s emotional core: “I don’t deserve this; life’s full of traumas I’ve put us through / I know I ain’t perfect, but I can assure you this / I will make it up to you / Wherever I go, each moment away, I’m missing you more than I can take”.
She also serves up slightly more upbeat fare on Tonight, whose powerful drums and stunning chorus establish it as one of the album’s highlights. Its lyrics are full of advice for the listener. She’s been through hell, but she hasn’t given up hope yet.
It’s one of only a very few songs on the album that’s fundamentally positive, and the sometimes bleak outlook may prove too much for some (Stay is particularly hard-hitting, and the sparse approach taken on Good Bad & Ugly features Francis at her absolute rawest), but a pessimistic tone was to be expected considering the trials its creator has had to face over the last few years, and there’s no doubting the passion that has gone into its creation.
The very existence of The Remedy is a remarkable feat in itself, and Francis’s long, dark night of the soul has produced a profoundly personal and affecting album, and one would hope that it has provided her with the catharsis that she sought when she began writing it. It’s been a long, hard road for her, but there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Karima Francis held on to the second chance she got for all it was worth, and her second album – created in the most difficut of circumstances – could give her career a long-overdue boost.
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