Release Date: Sep 22, 2017
Record label: Dead Oceans Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
There’s nothing like a bit of pressure on a young artist. Phoebe Bridgers is a 23 year old LA-based songwriter who early collaborator Ryan Adams has already compared to Bob Dylan and while that’s undoubtedly hyperbole at the moment, Stranger In The Alps is certainly one of those records that seem destined to herald a long-lasting career. There’s a ghostly quality from the opening note of Smoke Signals which grabs the attention straight from the start.
The gripping tension between vulnerability and courage on Los Angeles musician Phoebe Bridgers' debut album, Stranger in the Alps, is something that usually takes singer-songwriters numerous attempts to achieve — if ever. Opening song "Smoke Signals" starts out with weary, eloquent guitar and Bridgers' quiet, arresting voice gently exposing cracks in her haunting memories. She's mourning for lost friends, heroes, feelings and homes, and acceptance becomes a way for her to cope with the void. Halfway through, sparse patches of strings ….
There’s a winnowing that comes from distance and absence, in a way that reduces our connections with a person, place, or thing to a series of images, portents, and memories. Those remainders linger with us as touchstones of something lost and departed. Stranger in the Alps, the new release from Artist of the Month Phoebe Bridgers, captures the sense of that winnowing, the longing for something missing but still inescapably present, in beautiful melodies and heartrending lyrics. It’s a feeling given form by Bridgers’ stirring voice.
Phoebe Bridgers' debut album is best listened to on starry midnight walks, head reeling with thoughts of lovers old and new. The Los Angeles-based 22-year-old caught attention when her debut single "Killer" was released on Ryan Adams's Pax-Am label in 2015. Stranger in the Alps sensibly holds onto that early single, whose piano-driven jazz inflections stand out on an album of grungy guitar-led indie consumed by Bridgers' intimate vocal phrasing.
Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t beat around the bush on her debut effort, Stranger in the Alps. It’s an album about coming to terms with death and depression, which she makes immediately evident in her blunt lyricism. On “Funeral”, she croons Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time/And that’s just how I feel/Always have, and always will. Clearly not hallmark card material, but Phoebe Bridgers’ lyrics are a huge part of what makes Stranger in the Alps so special.
Back in 2015, when Phoebe Bridgers released her Ryan Adams-produced debut single via his PAX-AM label, she cut a contradictory figure, and two years on, the arrival of her first full-length does little to quell that idea. She grew up in Pasadena, cites Los Angeles as an inextricable part of her songwriting fabric and has apparently never wanted for support from family and friends, so you could be forgiven for expecting a considerably less melancholy affair than .
Like Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen? Then get ready to fall head over heels in love with Los Angeles’ Phoebe Bridgers. ‘Strangers In The Alps’ is a less a collection of songs and more a collection of feelings, a luscious but deeply sad debut that sees the 23-year-old singer putting her heart on the line and calling for you to do the same. It’s not surprise to find she’s heavily influenced by fellow Angelino Elliott Smith, with songs like ‘Funeral’ – about the overdose of a friend – and the haunting ‘Demi Moore’ sharing atmospheric, finger-picked emotion with the late singer-songwriter..
It also takes something very special for a person to be compared to probably the biggest of these household names (Bob Dylan) by another esteemed songwriter such as Ryan Adams , but once you hear Stranger in the Alps, the debut from LA-based Phoebe Bridgers you.
Phoebe Bridgers’ career has been propelled by fellow musicians. Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, and Julien Baker have all sung the praises of the 23-year-old Los Angeles singer-songwriter, leading up to her full-length debut Stranger in the Alps. Fittingly, the album itself is also populated by other artists: Bridgers writes about lost legends like Bowie and Lemmy down through the local hobbyists who haunt their hometowns like ghosts in faded band tees.