New York singer and activist Danielle Ponder pairs up with Melbourne cinematic soul outfit Karate Boogaloo to deliver “Look Around,” a haunting reflection on the times we live in. “Look Around” was written in the studio with the band in the first days of 2020 when Danielle was in Melbourne, and at the time was conceived as a cry for help in the literal firestorm that was engulfing Australia. As 2020 progressed, the words that came in that moment of inspiration seemed to reflect each of the multiplying calamities this year has presented. When the death of George Floyd ignited indignation across the USA and the world, the lyrics to Look Around could not have been more apropos.
In Danielle’s words: “fires were raging through Australia and smoke covered the sky. It felt like all of our human sins had gotten the best of us and we were paying a price. I didn’t know that when I arrived back home in the U.S, the world would only get darker. I feel like my past self wrote this song for my future self knowing what was to come.” This song would help Danielle through what has been one of the most painful times to be Black in America.
Coming from different continents and different backgrounds was no obstacle to Danielle Ponder and Karate Boogaloo forming an immediate musical connection in the studio. Karate Boogaloo is a formidable studio band with years of studious focus learning soul music and its history. The instant connection is obvious on “Look Around”, as the band and Danielle sound like they’d been playing together for years rather than hours. Black Lives Matter, while being a US-based movement, has a strong resonance in Australia where Indigenous people are massively over-represented in prison populations and in fatal interactions with the police.