Lauren Harding – Heart in a Box

Lauren Harding – Heart in a Box

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Lauren Harding’s Heart in a Box is an interesting listen. Between the piano-led pop and rock tracks, which feature their share of funky sounds and create moods perfect for a seedy portion of a musical, and Lauren Harding’s alternately small and big voice, the album plays like one long pleasant surprise. You don’t always know where she is going to go with a song despite the ready focus on love and relationships throughout, and while this album isn’t likely to blow you away, more often than not the results are pretty good.

“My Heart Flies” is a start-and-stop, upbeat sort of piano pop number about the effects a certain person has on Harding. “Shooting Stars” is the sort of dramatic song that would fit in well in a scene from Rent, while “Poison” mixes light and suggestive piano with abrasive guitars to great effect as Harding sings about how a relationship that seems so right can be so wrong at the same time. This last one sounds like something that would be played in a cabaret or a dimly lit club. The mid-tempo piano pop of “Front of the Line” switches from sounding mournful to elated as Harding goes back and forth between having moved on from an old love only to feel love’s sting again when that person returns. The creepy piano keys and percussive rhythms “Give it Away” fill the track with brooding distrust, while “Sunset” is perhaps the most radio-ready of the tracks.

This is a neat little record. Harding definitely isn’t reinventing the wheel here — but she’s not lathering, rinsing and repeating, either. Vocally she injects her tunes with a tortured sort of passion without steering too far into melodrama. Musically this album is a bit like listening to a less upbeat version of Sara Bareilles, and lyrically she treads on familiar territory with enough creativity to keep you from losing interest. Heart in a Box isn’t a show stopper, but it’s well executed and stands strong as a worthwhile listen.

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