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Album Review: One Hand on the Steering Wheel the Other Sewing a Garden by Ada Lea
Great, Based on 3 Critics
Exclaim - 80 Based on rating 8/10
That neighbour on the corner -- the one that's seen you stumble home seasick in the wee hours of the morning, that's watched quietly as you water your long gone tomato plants or wash streaks onto your windows -- how is it that you don't know their voice? That cat too, the one that comes around in the evenings without a collar or any sense of fear, where does she live when the sun is out?
Alexandra Levy's latest record as Ada Lea, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden, makes you wonder these things, the kind of music that illuminates the great big universe that can exist in a web of city blocks.
The record isn't necessarily about Levy's neighbourhood, but it's referenced directly, lovingly, several times; on "can't stop me from dying," she's infatuated not with the person laying naked in her bed, but with the intersections of streets and people and happenstance that steered them to it -- "I'm in love with my neighbourhood. "
The record is pressed at from all sides by the places that inspired it, navigating knotty relationships -- with others, with yourself, with the world at large -- with its feet planted firmly on the streets and fire escapes and creaking floors that host all our smallest triumphs and most humiliating collapses.
Montreal's Alexandra Levy, performing as Ada Lea, has a story to tell on her sophomore album, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden. Rules of verse, cadence, song structure, melody, and other such genteel things, take a distant backseat to what she has to say. And it's Levy's dismissal of such strictures that are at the heart of what makes one hand such a compelling listen.
When the going gets rough, Alexandra Levy flees--by bus, by car, or by daydream. On her debut album as Ada Lea, 2019's enticingly messy what we say in private, the Montreal musician reported on breakup grief with one foot out the door. But her second album, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden, is narrated on the go. "I'm flying out of here tonight like a butterfly," she sings on "violence," her words followed by booming drums.