One of the great musical discoveries that happened this summer was unearthing the gem that is Treble & Reverb, the 2012 album from New Zealand artist Aaradhna.
The album made a big impact in its home country, winning several 2013 New Zealand Music Awards, but elsewhere the buzz was less noticeable. However, the self-described “retro/metro” soul sound that dominates her third studio album has been a personal favorite. The 17-track effort seems daunting but thanks to Aaradhna’s terrific vocals and the smooth production, it’s something that can be thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
Music has always been a big part of Aaradhna’s life. With an Indian father and a Samoan mother, she had grown up listening to Bollywood music and singing Samoan gospel music. She started writing songs in her early teens and was involved in her school’s choir. In her early 20s, she was signed on hip-hop/R&B label Dawn Raid Entertainment and did features before finally releasing her debut album I Love You in 2006. Her earlier music leaned more towards 90s R&B. After the release of a sophomore album in 2008, she attempted to get a footing in the U.S. to little success.
Overwhelmed by the pressure, she took time off of music, nearly quitting it completely. After a while, she gradually started writing music again and found a new sound that would form Treble & Reverb. Thanks to her resilience and hard work, Aaradhna’s latest album has enjoyed significant airplay in her home country with the album in top 20 status. It was also thanks to this album that she signed on to U.S. label Republic Records, home of Amy Winehouse (one of Aaradhna’s major influences), Florence + The Machine, Jessie J, and Lorde.
Even with the album’s polished sound, Aaradhna’s raw emotion still manages to shine through, her voice able to skip and glide into each note with great control and ease. The first single, “Wake Up”, is a bright and motivating without being trite; steady hand-claps and the soul-pop feel of the song add to the genuine energy of an appropriate pump-up song. Rhythmic guitars and a catchy chorus mark “Great Man”, a song all about appreciating who you’re with. “Burned It Up” is classic soul with a sweeping orchestra, moving percussion and velvety backing vocals. Treble & Reverb is definitely an album that can be listened to from the first track to the last in consecutive order or with tracks just enjoyed individually.
So, confused on what to listen to on sleepy Monday mornings? Put on Treble & Reverb. Need something to sing to in the shower? Put on Treble & Reverb. Have a long commute to work? Put on Treble & Reverb. Don’t sleep on Aaradhna or this album any longer.