Release Date: Apr 7, 2017
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock
With only a few exceptions, it wouldn't be unreasonable to describe Alexandra Savior's debut album as being relatively calm. The distorted, old-fashioned Western guitar tones are set at a relatively slow pace throughout the record's 11 songs. From the slow burning "Girlie" to the John Barry-esque "Vanishing Point," Savior is remarkably consistent, settling into a measured, yet unhurried groove.
It's nice when it becomes quite apparent that an artist is so enamored by the imaginative weight of their own music that rather than just delivering a collection of strong, decent songs that are good to listen to, they serve up a whole other dimension of stories, emotions, and characters to explore them with. That's essentially a description of a concept album, but with the long-awaited full-length debut from Portland's Alexandra Savior, Belladonna of Sadness translates more effectively as photographs in an art book rather than a meticulous novel. Which is a good thing; it's not to say that the latter is outside of her abilities -- far from it.
Working with one of the world’s most prominent musicians - Alex Turner - must be something of a poisoned chalice. Alexandra Savior credits the Arctic Monkeys frontman with helping her make her lyrics less personal and more character-based, and he played guitars and bass on ‘Belladonna Of Sadness’, but he’s also become the focus of much of the attention around the record. What the album makes clear, though, is she's far from his puppet or mouthpiece - there’s a magic to her voice and presence that feels too natural to be manipulated.
Alexandra Savior has a penchant for clever wordplay and a voice that can hypnotize, terrorize, or both in four measures or less. Her YouTube covers favored the elongated swoons of Adele and Angus & Julia Stone ballads before she found a fan in Courtney Love and signed to Columbia. For her first full-length, she teamed up with Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and producer James Ford whose production credits pepper the vast majority of Turner's output.
R ecord company scouts spotted Alexandra Savior at 16 but she balked at plans to turn her into the next Katy Perry. The arty Portland teenager decamped to LA where she met her songwriting soulmate, Arctic Monkey's Alex Turner. With producer James Ford, they have created a debut that captures Savior's preternatural self-possession. Blessed with a crystalline, intimate voice - think a less cabaret Lana del Rey - she channels the outsider cool of the cult 70s Japanese anime the album is named after.
For a 21-year-old putting out her first record, Alexandra Savior already seems to have made some major strides. She's releasing Belladonna of Sadness through a major label, Columbia, and has enlisted the undeniably A-list talents of James Ford, he of Simian Mobile Disco, and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner to handle production duties. Ford and Turner, you'd imagine, already have a collaborative shorthand given that the former has worked on every Monkeys record since their sophomore Favourite Worst Nightmare and also produced The Last Shadow Puppets' Everything You've Come to Expect last year - on which Savior herself co-wrote one song, Miracle Aligner.