New re­leases from Al­dous Hard­ing, Lord Echo, Jane Weaver and !!!, plus a se­lec­tion of pri­vate-edi­tion work by the late Alice Coltrane.

Al­dous Hard­ing’s art is a heart-in-mouth ex­pe­ri­ence.

Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents -


When this re­viewer in­ter­viewed Al­dous Hard­ing in 2014, she was still a more-or-less no­body from Lyt­tel­ton with a freshly minted first al­bum of sin­gu­lar beauty and deep im­agery that sug­gested a deeply trou­bled young wo­man.

She told me that her at­ten­dance record at high school had been ap­palling, be­cause she’d spent so much time curled up in bed star­ing at walls.

Later, she ex­plained how the singing of her first songs was a kind of emo­tional ther­apy: “There was a time when I used to lis­ten to my­self singing them and think, ‘I’m not go­ing to make it, am I? This is some dark stuff!’ But they don’t frighten me any more.”

Clearly, Han­nah Hard­ing (the name given by her mother, folk singer-song­writer Lo­rina Hard­ing) sees the world through a splin­tered lens, em­bed­ding in her songs an in­ten­sity that re­quires not just the usual sto­ry­telling con­trivances of the folk id­iom, but a method-ac­tor’s skills. While that first, self-ti­tled, al­bum was a strik­ing work in which Hard­ing used her ex­tra­or­di­nary vo­cal in­to­na­tion to trans­form her­self into some kind of imag­ined doomed waif, its fol­low-up three years later is such a pro­gres­sion that it feels as if we’ve missed some steps along the way.

That frag­ile, plain­tive voice only oc­ca­sion­ally peeps through the cur­tains. In­stead, there are voices, plu­ral, and if any­thing, they’re even more in­tense, and more pos­sessed, than be­fore. It sounds a world away from that first sim­ple plea­sure, be­cause it’s pro­duced in London (not some lo-fi ware­house in Lyt­tel­ton where they fa­mously had to piss in a pot in the cor­ner) with famed pro­ducer John Parish, whose main pre­vi­ous client is PJ Har­vey.

It’s in­evitably with Har­vey that Hard­ing is be­ing com- pared, and not with­out rea­son. Apart from the Parish con­nec­tion, they’re both atyp­i­cal fe­male mu­si­cians/song­writ­ers who seem blessed/ cursed with a gnaw­ing drive to ex­press their art in an un­com­pro­mised, per­sonal way, flaws and all, and both are alt-femmes whose beauty and sen­su­al­ity tran­scend gen­der stereo­types.

Hard­ing also has some­thing in com­mon with those other two inim­itable sto­ry­tellers in song, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Both Waits and Cave found them­selves when they hooked into the idea of song as cin­ema for the ears, ei­ther act­ing out the drama or

That frag­ile voice only oc­ca­sion­ally peeps through. In­stead, there are voices, plu­ral, and if any­thing, they’re even more in­tense, and more pos­sessed, than be­fore.

ABOVE— Al­dous Hard­ing draws com­par­isons with PJ Har­vey, but also has some­thing in com­mon with Tom Waits and Nick Cave.

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