Ada Lea: What We Say in Private review – facing sadness with a knowing smile

Montreal artist’s post-breakup journal evolves into an endearing debut album

What we Say in Private
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Artist: Ada Lea
Genre: Pop
Label: Saddle Creek

Upon reflection, journals allow their scribes to pinpoint moments of personal development based on their musings. For Montreal-based visual artist and singer-songwriter Ada Lea, nom de plume of Alexandra Levy, detailing everyday post-breakup minutiae evolved into an endearing record, What We Say in Private.

Throughout, heartbreak is served with searing realisations (“There is always one person who does love just a little more than the other,” Lea notes on Mercury) set to jaunty, indie-pop numbers à la Mitski. The hangover of loneliness lingers on introspective arrangements such as Just One (Please), a mournful melody juxtaposed with gleeful birds chirping in a pet store. It reminds us how easily emotions can fall out of sync with our environment.

Shifting production styles retain excitement over repeated listens. The lo-fi sensibility of Frankie Cosmos is echoed on Real Now (Not Pretend), while What Makes Me Sad's warped guitar and thundering percussion is a defiant declaration.

Many would wince at the prospect of their private thoughts being made public. On this charming debut, Ada Lea embraces past sadness through a knowing smile, assured that everything will be all right.