Montreal’s Ada Lea (the moniker of Alexandra Levy) releases a new single/video, “partner,” from her forthcoming album, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden, out September 24th on Saddle Creek. It’s the follow-up to previously-released singles “damn” and “hurt.” Throughout “partner,” Lea sings as if she’s bright-eyed during a late night. Her narrative lyrics about an introspective evening unfurls over piano, synth, and a drum machine: “the cab lets me off at the diner // just for memory’s sake // and I sit at the same booth // with tears in my eyes // begging won’t you admit you’re giving up on me too quick.” Levy describes it as “a song about moving through a memory… an involuntary memory that steals up on you the night after a rager (which takes place the morning after the song ‘damn’).” The accompanying cinematic video, directed by Erica Orofino, features Levy as she moves through memories and the city.
“partner” is one of the stories that make up one hand on the steering wheel…As a whole, these tracks chart unavoidable growth that comes with experience. On one hand, it’s a collection of walking-paced, cathartic pop/folk songs, and on the other a book of heart-twisting, rear-view stories of city life. The album is set in Montreal and each song exists as a dot on a personal history map of the city where Levy grew up. The city exists as both the location of and a character in many of these songs.
The sounds across one hand on the steering wheel… range from classic, soft-rock beauty to intimate finger-picked folk passages and night-drive art-pop. And the textures are frequently surprising due to the collage of lo-fi and hi-fi sounds that tastefully decorate the album without ever clouding the heart-center of the song. Inspired by personal experience, daydreams, and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, the lyrics center storytelling on a bigger scale. The experience and emotions of a year are communicated through Levy’s vignettes of city life. Her prose is centered in its setting of the St Denis area of Montreal as it draws up memories from local haunts like Fameux, La Rockette, and Quai des Brumes in rearview reverie. Levy creates a balance through the album’s year by splitting her songs evenly into four seasons.
“one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden”
Photo Credits: Monse Muro