The four tracks on this folk/roots production (with a bit of country rock twang here and there) are a culmination of Katie’s evolution over sixteen years of songwriting and performing. This latest work has been produced in between being a wife and mother and, indeed, during the latter stages of her last pregnancy. Her devotion to her family spills forth in these tracks, which are both catchy and deeply personal, while at the same time very relatable.
Katie’s silky-smooth, somewhat restrained vocals on this EP are an immediate hook to the listener – Katie effortlessly reaches her peak volume in a continuous, exponential arc without a hint of hesitation or loss of power – the mark of a true professional. If one were to use the analogy of an engine – she is a pumping turbo-diesel rather than a flailing two-stroke. That silky-smoothness seems to have had a bit of a boost during the recording of this EP – Katie explains:
“…when you’re pregnant, you have different hormones pumping through your body and your ligaments become loose, including your vocal chords. So when I’m pregnant I find I sing with the most ease and control of any other time of my life (though I’m a bit extra short of breath). This is what is also captured in this recording.”
Again, the songs in this EP are all driven by Katie’s experiences as a mother and as a daughter and her life in the Red Centre. The track ‘Countrymen’ is a country-rock style tribute to the working men of the land – the stockmen (with a shout-out to her father, riding side by side with his fellow stockmen and ‘happiest when he’s mounted, saddle and spur’) and also to the women who raise and nurture families on the land. The more folksy ‘Jesse’ was written about Katie’s baby son and his giggly baby talk and how she started to think about his future and the life she would like him to have, walking by his side along the way. The more upbeat ‘Shining For You’ similarly recounts her eldest son’s first day of school and how he coped much better than she did…the separation and going forth into the world of one’s offspring is poignantly examined in this track.
The title track ‘Beloved’, a true love ballad, celebrates Katie’s ten years of marriage and the importance of giving in a relationship. This is a sublime track that exemplifies Katie’s unique songwriting style and her insight and ability to paint a picture with her words. It meanders along a path of commitment and working hard to keep a relationship strong, to ‘stand the test of time’. It is heartfelt stuff, best listened to sitting on the couch with your significant other at night when the kids have gone to bed and the wine is at the perfect temperature.
Production values on this EP are what we have come to expect from the extremely able Dave Crowe (Resin Moon), a fellow Centralian who, coincidentally, has himself just recently made his wedding vows. Dave has taken Katie’s and her band, The Artful Dodgers’ raw talent and run a fine comb through it to make an EP that is very easy on the ears. Katie’s voice sits in the mix perfectly throughout, something that is immediately noticeable. This is as good as anything you will hear from the larger southern studios and is another testament to the professionalism that comes from the small desert city. The cover art is in itself a reflection of the family theme of this EP – painted by Katie’s husband Nicholas Harder, who won an award for the work.
Katie Harder is of course not an unknown quantity around the country. She has graced the stage with some of the country’s finest acts, having supported Ash Grunwald, Blue King Brown, Jeff Lang, Ali Barter, Clair Bowditch and most recently the evergreen The Waifs, who have gushed at Katie’s work with them on their 25th Anniversary Tour. Said The Waifs’ guitarist Josh Cunningham of Katie: “Your music is heartfelt, inspiring and beautiful”. Josh, we wholeheartedly agree.
Katie Harder’s new EP ‘Beloved’ will be released this Friday, September 22 and is available on iTunes, Spotify or through her website: https://www.katieharder.com/
Katie will also be launching the EP at Epilogue Lounge, Alice Springs on the same day – tickets at the door. See: https://www.facebook.com/epiloguelounge/