Track Review: Anxiety // Karen Harding
Embracing her natural musical talent before she hit double-digits, Karen Harding began learning the piano at age 6 and began formal singing lessons at age 14. By the time she turned 21, Karen was performing in a cover duo gigging across Melbourne and building the foundation for her further musical journey. Inspired by Tracy Chapman, Leonard Cohen and Sarah McLaughlin, the Australia-based folk singer insert intimacy and charm into her sound. Turning heads across the globe, Karen has been featured on The Other Side Reviews, Sinusoidal Music, Roadie Music, Gigs ‘n Interviews, and various playlists. We look at the latest addition to her repertoire, ‘Anxiety’.
Following her well-received single ‘I Heard Somebody Talking’, Karen adopts a more pop-inspired sound mixed with her typical folk style. What I find intriguing is how the use of percussion, synths and haunting vocals contribute to an “urban” tune – think Erykah Badu meets Joni Mitchell. Produced with Joshua Hennessy, Karen seems to have found a way to create a flowing tune with a completely staccato melody. It is interesting as this not only showcases her obscurity, but it also helps align with the theme of the track – feeling and dealing with anxiety.
Alright, you might not think that a “plink plonk” effect could express anxiety but think about it. It’s common to feel discomfort, fear, frustration and confusion when dealing with anxiety, and Karen found the sonic representation of these emotions. As with ‘I Heard Somebody Talking’, ‘Anxiety’ is inspired by life in lockdown. Karen shares that “so many of us are affected by anxiety every day and Covid-19 has only heightened these experiences. For me, anxiety has been a real challenge…”
While there is an initial sense of discomfort with ‘Anxiety’, the track has an overwhelmingly optimistic, empowering and hopeful quality. The poetic lyricism uses a personal narrative to explore Karen’s anxiety, connect with listeners on a deeper level and accept difficult emotions. Karen points out that with ‘Anxiety’ she wants to “…share my experience of anxiety through the song and to open up some discussion in the hope that someone can discover a sense of peace”. Anthemic and kaleidoscopic, I am sure people will find ‘Anxiety’ not only calming but also a bit of an earworm.