Ada Lea – what we say in private

On what we say in private, Ada Lea marries sun and moon, dark and light, in her offering of a delicately unique narrative of the darkness of the human experience

Album Review by Bethany Davison | 15 Jul 2019
  • Ada Lea_What We Say in Private
Album title: what we say in private
Artist: Ada Lea
Label: Saddle Creek
Release date: 19 Jul

what we say in private guides in its humanlike, hyperreal qualities, as Alexandra Levy's sultry smooth bedroom pop is meshed against excerpts from voice memos and lo-fi recordings of nature’s ambience. Her debut record under the moniker Ada Lea is a winter-born companion, delivered to soften the sickly nostalgia that we find in our summer.

The record is paradoxical; sun and moon, dark and light. Levy’s lyrics offer a silken nuance on the human condition, where that condition is despair. Her sound is delicately unique: soft and sombre. She hints towards despair as her waxing lyricism dances through the record’s soundscape that is best described as dark disco. Even the guitar solo that draws wild heart to a close carries such emphatic emotion that matches her croons.

180 days affirms itself as the record’s most enchanting track. 'Smash your head on the pavement', Levy laments tenderly, 'Just to feel near to something new'. Her delivery of such sentiments returns to this concept of paradox, as her dealings with despair render the record beautifully cathartic. for real now (not pretend) continues this trend. Unsure as her claims that 'Today is gonna be a good day' are the textures that lead the track to its spiralling climax of synth-laden mutterings, finding clarity in chaos.

Levy, the visual artist, unfolds her relationship with colour through the party, as she laments: 'The moon was a strange shade of green / Orange, was I wrong? / Because I couldn’t tell the difference at all'. As such, the record in parts is autumnal, Levy’s palette composed of the warmest auburn, in others we find this sense of warmth polarized.

In the depth of its humanness what we say in private teases the surreal; the honesty of Levy’s lyricism finds itself embossed with the catcalls of nature, culminating in a sense of the ethereal. just one, please rests as the richest example of this, as samples of birdsong are married with mournful scratches of guitar strings. With a multi-layered narrative, Levy sings between abstract and Auto-Tuned clippings of her purchasing a dove, and in this proves the success of her experimentalist artistry.

By welcoming the world into her record, Alexandra Levy has created something much more whole and warm than perhaps it might have been. 

Listen to: 180 days, wild heart, for real now (not pretend)