Sounds Like: Nico in a private karaoke room singing Jewel until closing
For Fans of: Nick Drake, Mazzy Star, Adele's "Someone Like You"
Why You Should Pay Attention: Last month, Lorde gushed about her favorite new song, "Imagining My Man," by this fellow New Zealand singer-songwriter. "This song blows my head off," the singer wrote, complimenting Harding's frantic yet delicate vocal phrasing ("a soft flurry of gut punches"). Like Lorde, there is a forlorn steadiness to Harding. Her second album, Party, due next month on 4AD, is full of melancholic but firm declarations. "Here is your princess/And here is the horizon," Harding repeats with an acrid earnestness on single "Horizon," a song, addressed to a partner, about presenting your unfiltered self to another person. Her voice is capable of a spectrum of subtle turns, and her knack for metaphor is top notch: Of a break-up, she sings, "The sugar has run out."
She Says: "I'm trying to know who I am and be honest about it. … We all want the same thing, love and acceptance. That's pretty much it. And what I've learned is that unless I'm happy with my side of the nickel, it can change violently – quickly. I'm one of those people who's always changing. There's nothing wrong with it but it means I am a hard person to hold onto, I guess. I had someone say to me once, 'Why do you have to live so hard all the time?'"
Hear For Yourself: "Imagining My Man" is a piano caught in the winds of Harding's mind. The song is about an actual person, she says. "I wanted a less sophisticated verb than 'Thinking About My Man,' or 'Wanting My Man,'" Harding says. "I wanted the word ["imagining"] to suggest someone who isn't thinking clearly." Sarah Grant