There are points in life when we need to be startled awake. We get complacent, too used to what we already like; set in our ways, desperate for release. New Zealand folk singer Aldous Harding is the shock we’ve unknowingly been waiting a lifetime for.
Aldous Harding entered my life accidentally, incidentally, and brutally. Music has the innate ability to reinvent itself, to surprise you when you least expect. It can move you when you’re least expecting to be moved. Each time it happens to me the way it happened to me as a teenager, I have an obsessive need to drink it up. That’s how I felt when I saw the New Zealand songstress performing “Horizon” on Jools Holland this past Friday.
It was a regular edge-of-the-weekend evening. I got home from grocery shopping, had done my good deed for the day and then napped. That good deed involved England’s only day of summer of the year, total narcissism, our Stevie Nicks playlist, and a budding tan. But self-care is a good deed and one I have bad luck forgetting. I got wine and sat on the remote.
I never watch television on a Friday night. Friday nights are reserved for alcohol and vinyl, lying prostrate on the floor until I fall asleep. Due mostly to pure laziness, I ignored the remote and left it on. That’s when I heard Aldous Harding’s voice.
Looking up, I saw a girl dressed all in white, a bobbed haircut that spliced Chrissie Hynde and Karen O. It was like she was performing through the camera, directly to me. Like I was Carol Anne in Poltergeist and she was the entity that was pulling me through to join her. Except I wanted to go willingly. The way I figured it, Aldous Harding could keep me company as I avoided stepping into the light at the behest of a medium with a child’s voice. I was (am) instantly obsessed.
Jools has been good to me. He’s introduced me to a lot of my favorite artists, but it hasn’t been since Anna Calvi that my whole spirit and gooseflesh have stood to attention.
There’s been ridiculous controversy over her performing style that I wish surprised me. This is a world where a man with a guitar can bounce on the balls of his feet looking like he’s going to piss himself and it’s all good. Fine. It should then, perhaps, also be a world where, whether you love or hate a piece of art, it should never be because of the way an artist chooses to channel and interpret their work. Her performing style is enthralling and captivating, I want and I want until I can’t breathe anymore. Isn’t that the mark of a good artist?
In any event, it wasn’t long before I was listening to her newest album, “Party”. I will boldly state it’s one of the most exciting records of the year so far. Standout lyrics like “I broke my neck dancing to the edge of the world” and “what if my moon gets caught up in my waning?” have served as the folk-based soundtrack to a weekend of conjunctive strange weather and longing for more.
ALDOUS HARDING IS ON TOUR NOW: BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
MORE ABOUT ALDOUS HARDING
An artist of rare calibre, Aldous Harding does more than sing; she conjures a singular intensity. Her body and face a weapon of theatre, Harding dances with steeled fervor, baring her teeth like a Bunraku puppet’s gnashing grin.