Ada Lea “hurt”

Saddle Creek, 2021

Ada Lea (the pseudonym of Montreal’s Alexandra Levy) shares a video for ‘hurt‘, the second release from her new album, ‘one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden‘, on Saddle Creek Records.

The album is set in Levy’s home of Montreal and she describes each song as existing as a dot on a personal history map of the city where she grew up, with the city existing as the location and even as a character in many of these songs.

Levy penned and demoed the album’s songs in an artist residency in Banff, Alberta. After sorting and editing the new work, she made her way to Los Angeles to record with producer/engineer Marshall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers) who had previously worked on Levy’s 2020’s, ‘woman, here‘ EP. Levy describes how Marshall’s expertise and experience with drumming and songwriting was the perfect blend for what the songs needed. “He was able to support me in a harmonic, lyrical, and rhythmic sense.” Other contributors that left a notable fingerprint on the soundscape include drummer Tasy Hudson, guitarist Harrison Whitford (of Phoebe Bridgers’ band), and mixing engineer Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett).

The track begins with a pulsing bass guitar over a slowly rolling bass-drum and snare, with a dry, slightly discordant acoustic guitar. With perfectly judged intensity, Levy’s lovely voice manages to capture the pain and particular madness of heartbreak. “I could make it there fast // I could make it there slow // I’m not being dramatic // Or dark in tone when I say // Somebody hurt me badly // Now I’m stuck in a rut // Now I’m going crazy.

Directed by Monse Muro, the video is beautiful and evocative, capturing that edge-of-madness heartbreak and grief reflected in the song. Dressed in a stark white dress, Levy sits at a quirkily decorated dinner table perched on bleak, sea-sprayed rocks with a sombre grey seascape behind her. Peter Hostak’s washed out, desaturated cinematography serves to capture the hollowed out feelings portrayed in the song. As the song builds to a climax, the visuals become more abstract and nightmarish but it’s Levy’s performance throughout the delivery of the song that’s the most unsettling element, as she twists and contorts herself while recounting the anguish of someone badly hurt in a relationship.

It’s a powerful evocation of the damage we can do to ourselves in unhealthy relationships. A stunning song and a stunning video.

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