Photo: Cat Stevens
In one sense, Aldous Harding’s work fits squarely within the retro-popular tradition of indie folk singer/songwriters. Her voice is a soft, crooning, fire breather. Her tales of emotional ailment and trauma, her penchant for theatrical storytelling, and her vibrato-induced intensity draws comparisons to the likes of modern counterparts like Weyes Blood or Joanna Newsom while carrying the torch of earlier female folk staples like Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins.
The New Zealander is infamous for her dramatic live performances, which seems increasingly fitting after the release of Party, an anxiety ridden, gothic folk rendering of a poetry-as-survival mentality. Though the essence of the songs themselves ranges from serenely beautiful to downright creepy, there’s a continuous honesty and urgency to each one, as if every gently strummed chord and wavering word were preventing internal combustion. In this light, the title of “singer/songwriter” seems to fall completely short. Harding is both a sonic and corporeal spectacle. Her performative persona is a singular force, a possession that refuses to release its grip without a spiritual, expressive purge.
Listen to Aldous Harding’s recently released single “Elation” here: https://open.spotify.com/track/5pk4rP6uGcKRLYHZ1AjWdb