A two-minute and twelve second fireworks display of songwriting, arranging, performance and production brilliance. That’s really all we need to say about “Defibrillator”, the second single taken off the debut album, “The Occasion”, by multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter, Harkness. Recorded and Mixed by Harkness at Anonymous Studios in Toronto for Windchild Records, the new single sees Harkness handling vocals, guitars, bass, piano and drums, while the artist also ensures that all other instruments are real players, and no samples or auto tune are used. In this day and age, that in itself, is a major feat indeed.
So who is this noteworthy and singular thinking creative? Harkness was born in Toronto, Canada, the 2nd in a brood of 5, both of his parents were talented musicians. He started playing the piano at the age of 4, before discovering guitars via a friend, which ignited his passion and determination to pursue music. He dropped out of school at age 17 to go on tour, and has never looked back having now played all over Canada, The U.S., U.K. and Europe.
“Defibrillator” is undoubtedly a crossover record, one laced with the most complex, yet brightly accessible material you could imagine. Guitars meet horns, strings and keys, across a lusciously quaint and mellifluous tapestry, blended of Pop, Indie, Alternative and Psychedelic Rock flavors. The sound is joyfully playful, while the narrative is bleakly somber.
Above the lavish sonic foundation, Harkness layers rich slabs of soaring harmonies and captivating, cascading melodic motifs. His lead vocal is comfortable, nuanced and majestic in places, and uniformly excellent across the entire track. Some music changes you. It changes the way you listen, and it changes your expectations. “Defibrillator” delivers that kind of music. It is different, and wholly apart from anything on the radio right now.
There are so many things to enjoy about this record. “Defibrillator” represents a shift from the cloned mainstream musical templates we are over-exposed to every day. Each individual creative decision made in this recording, is a glorious act of musical transgression. There is a spark of originality and enthusiasm running through every note of this track. It has intrinsic values that will outstay any popular music trends.
Lyrically, the song is just as bold and focused in its approach. When asked what “Defibrillator” is about, Harkness explained: “Well, looking all around us today it appears as if the shit is truly hitting the fan. There’s so much inequality, division and pain, so many people seem to be struggling. It’s almost as if the world is having a heart attack right before our eyes. Maybe the whole planet could use a Defibrillator?”
Harkness wears a visor and gown to reflect a profound and life changing experience he had in his early 20’s, one where he says: “I was shown what appeared to be the blissful advantages of leading an imageless life.” In the era of exasperated self-imagery, once again we have proof of the artist’s will to ignore the norm, and pursue his own direction.
There are times when artists hit a composing apex – both lyrically and musically – where everything is just right, where they make that quantum leap forward, and above everyone else. With “Defibrillator”, Harkness has created a song that’s impossible to dislike. Because even the harshest of indie snobs would be hard-pressed to find fault with music of this caliber.