Alexandra Savior - Belladonna of Sadness
21 year old Alexandra Savior has created a mysterious, eloquent and unconventional first album, Belladonna of Sadness. It's made by someone at the very start of their musical development; written and recorded right after she moved to LA for her career aged just 18. Her raw talents - her entrancing vocals and artistic imagination - act as an incredibly rich and original foundation for the record, but the precision and production needed a more experienced hand. This came in the form of Alex Turner, of Arctic Monkeys fame, and James Ford, of Simian Mobile Disco. Turner helped co-write the record with Savior, each of the pair using different styles to reach a harmonised balance. Ford, a successful producer responsible for dozens of records including four Arctic Monkeys albums, brings the practiced production hand whilst it's Turner's first endeavour as a producer.
Listening to the record conjures up a blatant comparison, glamorous and melancholic Lana Del Ray, the two share a dark and sultry voice and casual tragedy in their lyrics. The link doesn't feel forced however, more that they draw from the same inspirations and are both women exploring angst through a vintage lens. Savior has well-documented her strive to avoid industry models, walking out on labels asking her if she wanted to be like Pink or Katy Perry, she writes with a feminist focus and doesn't shy away from sweary lyrics. Her personal drive and artistry translates to other mediums, her own paintings have been used for single covers and merchandise and her enigmatic music videos are self-directed and edited.
The sound of the album is ornate, Turner's backing guitar and bass decorating Savior's detached and dusky vocals. There's a strong cinematic feel, reminiscent of the grandiose soundtracks of old horror and western films. Savior's voice drips over each track, she delivers the lines in a cool apathetic manner that marries well with the gloomy ambiance. On certain tracks however there is a shift in dynamics - like in 'Cupid' where she showcases a daintier tone with a xylophone chiming in the back, or 'MTME', with its quicker tempo and inclusion of electric guitar with out-of-character shrieks and laughs. The atmosphere is in equal parts personal and impersonal, the angst and emotion is communicated via fictional characters. Notably 'Girlie' and 'Frankie' use this technique of filtering intimacy through imagined figures, this use of third person allows Savior to create vivid imagery.
For such a young artist Savior has birthed a mature and polished work that demonstrates her artistry, hopefully it isn't long until we get to hear some more work, and work that features solely her.