Folk songstress from the wild port of Lyttleton, Aldous Harding strolls diffidently on to the Sawmill stage. She’s in a long black dress, hair parted down the center and clipped above the ears in Amish fashion. She murmers of missing boyfriend Marlon Williams, away touring. But snaps back into it, strokes her guitar and announces she’s got new shit to play – “let’s make this kitty purr”. Aldous has collected the sounds, images and even, occasionally, accents from faraway places and archived them. She leans a focused face against the guitar to scrutinize her own finger work. The pan flute sound she makes with her mouth is ghostly, while the chorus in new song The world is looking for you is exotic, otherworldly. She’s bittersweet and jazzy in just released track I’m so sorry.
Her last song, also a new one, is Horizon. Aldous puts aside her guitar and her vulnerability, to stand, while a friend sits down at the piano. She stares out into the crowd with intense eyes and wails: “Here is your princess… here is the horizon”, an arm outstretched with each proposition. She demands an answer from us – suddenly, there is twisted power behind the curtaining fringe.
Aldous laughs at the darkness of her previous work and talks of lighter tunes still in the works. She admits “I’m sorry I’m so awkward… but that’s not going to change.” And thank god for that because the end of the hour has come, and we’ve all chosen the princess.