When Keith Urban made the comment that she swallowed Janis Joplin, I heartily agreed. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that she is a perfect blend of Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Eartha Kitt, and perhaps a decent sprinkle of Nina Simone and Etta James. There’s a heartwrenching power in that voice, and the world needs to hear it.
Karise Eden rose to fame during the first season of The Voice Australia in 2012, turning all four chairs in under 10 seconds. It would have to be record timing; I’ve never seen all four chairs turn within 10 seconds. I mean, watch it:
Since her audition, Karise Eden grew into an effective soul singer/songwriter. During her course on The Voice, she developed her style and brung forth some worthy ballads. The crowd favourite is her rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.
Following her landslide win on The Voice Australia, you’d think she be among the stars? Unfortunately, she’s not, and the rest of the world is missing out.
And that’s exactly why I’m here.
I first heard of Karise Eden during a short internship with Fairfax Media. I wrote about her studio album, Things I’ve Done. I got lost in her music that day, immersing myself in her vibrant vocals. I had made a mental note to buy her album on the way home.
And then, four years later, she re-emerged with a new studio album: Born To Fight. With it, she brought one of the rawest bluesy tunes I’ve ever heard.
She still has her riveting voice, but she brought out a new image. Something different to her timid side that Australia saw on her blind audition.
And when she announced another tour around Australia, I had to go see her.
You know, I am torn. On the one hand, I wish more of the world could appreciate the powerful tones of Karise Eden. On the other hand, I don’t, simply because that voice works best in intimate lounges, laced with a quirky and rustic atmosphere. I just don’t know if it would feel the same in a theatre, arena or stadium.
But that voice deserves to be heard!
Karise still has that timid vibe, but she holds a truer sense of self. You can feel it in the way she performs, singing not just for the audience in front of her, but also herself. Music is her way of dealing with the world. It’s her meditation.
She exudes an exceptional rawness which is carried along by a guttural tone. It’s a hallmark voice, unique in itself. The only singers closest to it would be Janis Joplin or Eartha Kitt.
But a powerful voice is not all she has to offer, for a singer’s mission is not just to get the tones right. No, Karise Eden brings more than voice. She brings her feelings too. Whether it’s a song she is recreating, like Hallelujah or Stay With Me Baby, or a song that she herself has written, Karise strives to share her exact interpretation.
One of my favourite renditions of hers is of the Etta James classic I’d Rather Go Blind. It’s a hard song to sing, not so much for the tone of voice, but also the emotion you need to bring.
How can you be angry and in love with someone at the same time? And not just any kind of angry, but fed up. Someone is taking your lover away from you. And yet, Karise does it justice:
Karise is not afraid of emotion. She’s not afraid of vulnerability. She sheds it off with spectacular ease, helping her captivate the audience first before taking them on an emotional ride.
One of the best tactics in creating any art form is introducing conflict. It’s the first rule in collecting the attention of an audience.
There’s a problem. My lover is walking around with this girl. I feel hopeless with love, hoping to see the love of my life again. Conflicts sell stories.
Karise’s songwriting ability allows her to understand the nuances of a song, throwing in the perfect highs and lows. And when she goes high, you know it. Not only can you hear it, but you can feel it swirl around the room.
But as any songwriter knows, the best songs are not just the sad ballads, but also the power ballads. The ones that are better to sing than to hear. Popular anthems would be Horses by Daryl Braithwaite or American Pie by Don Mclean.
Karise Eden’s anthem is a little more stark, evoking necessary vulgarity over an awful situation. Perhaps what I loved most about her live rendition of this song was how she managed to get the small crowd of 40+ people to sing along with her. It really is one of those songs.
The images were taken by LadyJay Lomographic. If you love Karise Eden and think the world needs to hear it, feel free to share!