By Rita Plante
Dream pop meets desert rock in Alexandra Savior’s sophomore album The Archer, which was released on January 10, 2020. The album is a vulnerable and emotional piece that feels as if you are reading an entry from her diary. She writes about heartbreak after the end of a relationship, but also an overall difficult time in her life following being dropped by Columbia Records.
The album is a very strong follow up to her 2017 debut, Belladonna of Sadness, which was co-written and produced by Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and popular producer James Ford.
The Archer is Savior’s defining album as an artist as she steps away from working with Turner to find her individual voice. Every song on the album is strong not only vocally, but production wise as well. She is currently on a small North American tour to promote the album.
On February 18, 2020 Savior played an intimate, sold out gig at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge, only the second show in New York City of her career, her first being at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right in 2016. The Mercury Lounge has been around since the 90’s and it is known for hosting up and coming indie acts. The venue has hosted iconic bands in the genre like The Strokes, Arcade Fire, and Interpol while they were still on the rise. With a capacity of only 250 persons, the venue allows for the artist to connect with the audience on a more personal level, which is exactly what Savior was trying to do with The Archer so the venue was a perfect fit.
Savior’s performance style is muted but incredibly animated. She doesn’t dance around the stage much, dress in flashy or provocative outfits, or use any flashy guitar tricks. She lets the music speak for itself, but not in a way that is boring. She tells a story with the lyrics but also with her facial expressions and motions.
For example, during the song “Mystery Girl,” she got all worked up by enunciating her voice and scrunching up her face to deliver the line “don’t try to calm me down.” Throughout the night she used dramatic facial expressions, like widening her eyes or frowning, and subtle movements, like clasping her hands or raising her arms, to act out the message in the lyrics of her songs while adding in a personal flare and emotional tone not found in her recorded music.
Vocally, Savior is very strong. She normally speaks with a faint lisp that disappears completely when singing. She sings with an accent that’s very intriguing and different from anything else out there right now. In the show opener “Vanishing Point,” her accent and vocal style sounded similar to the style of female singers in the 40s and 50s.
Aside from vocals, she also plays guitar. Band member Mel Guèrison and Savior switched back and forth between playing lead and rhythm guitar throughout the set. The majority of the songs that she played guitar for were off of her new album, further proving how she has developed as an artist since her debut album. Her most impressive instrumental performance of the night was during the intro of “Saving Grace,” where she played the catchy opening riff.
Mel Guèrison traded in her guitar for a violin during the tracks “But You,” “Soft Currents,” and several others. These ballads are the most emotional on the album, and that emotion doubled when performed live. The music, specifically the violin, evoked so much feeling that it sent chills up my spine and a tear down my cheek.
Savior had the audience in the palm of her hand as she sang lines such “my fate is in the hands of my mistakes,” “it feels a little empty in the night now, honey,” and “all the tears I’ve shed, love.” It was as if time stopped and this show was the only thing happening in the world. When each song ended it was silent to the point that you could hear a pin drop, before the audience erupted in applause.
Savior closed the show by leaving all of her thoughts and feelings out in the open with “Soft Currents,” a truly beautiful song to end an amazing show.
Savior put on an incredible performance that put the audience through a wide range of emotions. One moment I was laughing, and the next thing I knew I was in tears. Savior has amazing control over her live vocals and tremendous instrumental talent to make for an impressive live performance.
The highlight of the night for me was definitely watching the show closer “Soft Currents.” I don’t think she will be playing small venues like The Mercury Lounge for much longer, so I’m glad I got to see her in such an intimate setting.
The Archer is out now on all streaming platforms. I recommend the tracks “But You,” “Howl,” and “Soft Currents.”