Americana might need a new name, so many sterling exemplars have been rolling in off the South Pacific: Nadia Reid and Julia Jacklin, for two. The latest is Aldous Harding, whose second album of hypnotic folk flowers into something far more opaque and artistically evolved. Producer John Parish’s long association with PJ Harvey is a reference point, but Harding is her own woman, an arresting vocalist whose mannered deliveries – from chanteuse to jazzy – and intense themes defy obvious influence. Titles such as What If Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming and Swell Does the Skull (featuring Perfume Genius) evince the best kind of gothic bent, but there is much else to get lost in here: stones that feel, instruments barely caressed.
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666