Ada Lea: one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden (Saddle Creek) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Ada Lea

one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden

Saddle Creek

Sep 24, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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. Case in point coming on opening track, “damn,” where Levy in turn speaks to, sings of, and spits out all manner of frustration that dared to color the beginning of her year. Lyrics such as, “every year gets darker, then the dark gets darker, then it’s dark as hell,” are crammed into much less space than they should be afforded and become more attention getting as a result.

The goings on of one hand take place in and around the St. Denis section of Levy’s hometown. Specific geographic references are few, Salt Spring Island on “saltspring” and Highway 97 on “hurt,” but details abound. The hypnotic meander of “oranges” contains an image of “the humming of the ash trees, stains of fallen leaves on the concrete,” that are etched in her memory but conveyed poetically to her audience. The verbosity of it all does come with a certain weightiness that can put you into the same insular sense of suffocation that Levy must have felt in needing to put pen to paper. Songs like “partner” and “violence” convey this sense most directly, but moments of catharsis, like the atonal guitar bursts on “my love 4 you is real,” provide welcome relief.

Elsewhere, the exasperated returning home resignation of “hurt,” and the loose-limbed ’70s folkiness of “saltspring” and “writer in NY,” provide more straightforward glimmers of the underlying beauty of Levy’s compositions. Ultimately, one hand’s intimate song cycle provides for one of the most off center, but utterly compelling listens of the year. That you can read through the lyric sheet without listening along and still come away with a strong sense of Levy’s talents as a writer is an added bonus. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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