Being born and bred in Australia, I’ve always felt slightly envious of our close neighbor, the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand. Not because of their endless supply of wool or the beautiful landscape, but because of the element of soul music that is ingrained in their culture. I have a sneaking suspicion that New Zealanders are taught about music and how to sing before they can walk. When you look at the artists coming out of NZ you get the idea that they have a long held respect for music. Just one listen to exports like Electric Wire Hustle, Kimbra and Funkommunity is proof of that. Another NZ artist who embodies all that I love about Kiwis, and who has been subtly making her mark around these parts for a few years and is now set to take off on a larger scale, is vocalist Aaradhna.
After the bounce
Aaradhna has a silky voice that floats effortlessly around, along and through melodies and manages to be as at home over a hip-hop beat as it is going down the doo wop route over classic retro-soul rhythms. She got her start doing the former, collaborating with New Zealand rappers like Savage and more recently with David Dallas, but on her soon to be released album, Treble & Reverb, you’ll hear her sticking closely to the latter. Aaradhna has released two albums previously, 2006’s I Love You and Sweet Soul Music, a collection of covers from 2010, which I’d recommend getting yourself acquainted with. However, after being lucky enough to hear her latest album in advance, I’d say this work is that definitive album for Aaradhna. Her sound has most certainly evolved, and while she maintains her trademark harmonies, her writing now echoes the don’t-hold-back lyricism of modern soul greats like Amy Winehouse. But where Winehouse’s vocal delivery is dark and broody, Aaradhna’s is sweet and polite, even while telling you that she WILL kick your ass. Despite her candied tone, I, for one, have no doubt that she will stay true to her word.
“Wake Up,” the first single from the album is a catchy soul number that was written as a wake up call by Aaradhna to herself, to get out of that rut of just going through the motions of life and to start truly living. She has followed that up with the track “I’m Not The Same,” a raw and honest ballad that lays Aaradhna’s heart bare. With lyrics like ‘With a pocket full of stones, and a brick tied around my soul’, the pain conveyed in Aaradhna’s writing and singing transcends merely being words over music to being painfully and unforgettably tangible. If you’ve ever known heartbreak, then this song will resonate with you.
While you may have to wait until next month to get your hands on Treble & Reverb, you can get yourself familiar with Aaradhna by downloading your free copy of “I’m Not The Same” and enjoying the music video for “Wake Up.” Once you’ve done that then I’m sure you’ll agree that Aaradhna is very deserving of your attention.