With a new decade upon us, music is sure to hit some highs in the year 2020. Among these anticipated bodies of music includes a sophomore release from Alexandra Savior with The Archer. At just the age of 24, Savior has become somewhat of a seasoned musician in terms of experiences with the industry. Following the release of her 2017 debut Belladonna of Sadness, Savior has seen the many faces of the music world. She was ultimately dropped from her label and found herself without a manager. In a conversation with NME, Savior said she became “…insecure with [her] writing…” following the blows. Despite the departure, Savior was still writing her own music – a craft that she will never give up. Now in 2020, she has joined forces with Danger Mouse’s record label, 30th Century Records for The Archer; a laconic and poignant collection of heartbreaking hymns.
Rounding up to a total of 31 minutes, Savior proves to be an emotionally driven writer with her unyielding lyrics of love and loss. Writing on this album is purposeful and to the point – a hard feat for many artists. Savior sets the tone of melancholy with her first track Soft Currents – a piano ballad that will have you in a pre-emptive state of glum, but in the best way possible. She sings, I find happiness in the wrong places / Every time / My fate is at the hands of my mistakes / And that’s alright. You are given a brief taste of the journey Savior is about to take you on, and she isn’t sugar coating the raw reality that she has been facing over the last few years.
Throwing you into the grasp of what feels like angry Savior is Saving Grace. The strings are heavy and mean and the complete opposite of what the previous was like melodically. Savior is really in control of her voice in this project. She is aware of her musical range and how to utilize her second strongest gift next to song writing. The eerie feel of her switching to a higher pitch was an unexpected turn of events and brands the song as the turning point of the album.
Mid-way through the album, Savior blesses us with Can’t Help Myself. From the first 10 seconds of the song you are immediately transported to something resembling a beach along the Pacific Coast Highway, drop top and all. She croons, [l]ight dims as he walks my way / I’ve been running for a reason I could never retain / Sweet lips like pink lemonade / When he’s feeling generous he’s gonna give me a taste. Again, Savior uses her developed vocal range that was not touched on in Belladonna of Sadness. Moving away from the ‘lady in black’ vibe projected in her previous work, Can’t Help Myself is much happier without actually being happy. Her layered vocals and keyboard use are expanded on this track and really will have listeners thinking of how sweet unrequited love sounds.
But You serves as the standout track on the album. Kicking off with a rough and rugged vibe, foreshadowing the storm that is coming, Savior sings a sorrow filled ode to an unknown beloved. She laments, [t]he wilted edge of a lonesome mattress / I lay my head there until the feeling passes / It’s sinking in just as time relapses / I hope that you can feel it / ‘Cause nobody else can heal it but you. And Savior really dabbles in all of the elements for this one; brass, piano and strings. The trifecta of perfection, Savior allows for the instruments to take over and embellish the emotion that she holds in her words. Given that Savior was free to openly write what was on her mind for this album, it brings into question what she has been holding back. Her capabilities as an artist are evident and she most definitely delivers in terms of production and lyrics. What may have seemed like a hit to her career when she was dropped from her previous label has clearly been a blessing in disguise. The autonomy she has now is evident and shines through – quite literally – in her voice.
As for the rest of 2020, Savior is embarking on a US and European tour. We can only hope that she finds her way to the great North in time so we can applaud her in person for the magic she has created on this record.