Back in April of 2017, Portland, Oregon musician Alexandra Savior took the alternative music world by storm with her debut album Belladonna Of Sadness. The jazzy tones and the elegance of her voice was complimented by electronic beats. She also had input from Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford on the production side of things. It was quite a way to make an entrance as an artist. Her sophomore release, The Archer, recently came out on January 10, and it marks a series of slight shifts in her musical approach.
The new album sheds the electronic beats that were present in her debut while the piano has a bigger presence. There are also twangy guitars that are reminiscent of what you’d hear in a psychedelic spaghetti western. An atmospheric aura covers the record from the first track onward to make for an enthralling listening experience. A certain darkness is also present, but it leans more towards noir than macabre. The second release of a musician’s career always has more pressure going into it, but Savior shines in a variety of ways.
“I was really focused on the lyrics and the melodies,” she says of the vision behind the album. “There’s more piano involved because that’s what I was using to write the songs instead of using a guitar. I think I wanted to send a message through the lyrics rather than having a set goal for the way it was produced and the way that it sounds. That part just came naturally.”
Savior’s music career started in a unique way by initially getting notice on YouTube back in September of 2012. As a 17-year-old, she performed a version of Angus Stone’s “Big Jet Plane” and by chance it got spotted by Courtney Love. Love then made a post of the video exclaiming “This girl is gonna be huge!” and it started her career as a musician after a brief spell in modeling. She looks back on the event as something unexpected but also with fondness.
“I thought it was exciting and I was really young,” she mentions about being discovered by chance. “I never considered that I’d ever be a part of that sort of world or I would ever be associated with it. It was pretty cool.”
Before work on The Archer was underway, Savior switched labels. She went from being a part of Columbia Records to the independent 30th Century Records, which is run by the legendary producer, Danger Mouse. She enjoys the change due to 30th Century’s attentiveness and personable way of doing business.
“It’s a lot smaller, there’s only like two employees,” Savior says about the label. “On a bigger label it’s easier for them to shove you down to the bottom of the list, but working with 30th Century has been a lot more intimate. I feel a lot more trust with them because they make me feel that they actually want me to be there and want to do what’s right for the music.”
The Archer continues the vintage pop direction that Savior started on her debut. “The Phantom” has an interesting drum structure that’s accented by chimes. She also sings in a higher pitch while the twang of the guitar has a dose of feedback to it. There’s a notable bass line in “Saving Grace” that’s consistent throughout the whole track. A mellow vibe is all around “Bad Disease,” which harks to the jazzy tones of her earlier material.
This all comes naturally to her rather than pointing out certain musicians and bands as influences. Like a lot of other artists, what she puts down on an instrument comes from what she’s been listening to. It doesn’t invade her individuality. She instead takes bits and pieces while putting her own spin on it. It’s refreshing to see this in an age where there are so many imitators in music, where influences can stick out like a sore thumb. With this being said, there is one specific musician who definitely sticks with her.
“I don’t think it’s very conscious,” she talks about her distinct style. “I naturally collect sounds, tones and chords that I am drawn to. I listen to a lot of female singer-songwriters from the sixties than I do anything else. Dusty Springfield is a good reference but it’s not as conscious as it might seem to make that sort of sound.”
For the rest of 2020, Savior plans on focusing on shows for the time being in support of the new album. This expedition will be taking her to the United Kingdom and France, so far, with future dates being announced soon. In terms of new music to follow up her sophomore release, she does have one collaboration in the works. She doesn’t know when the exact date will be, so only time will tell when fans can give it a listen.
“I’m just doing tours right now,” She concludes. “I wrote a song with my friend Grace Mitchell that’s going to be released, but right now I’m pretty focused on getting through this year of being on the road.”
Be sure to catch Alexandra Savior at the Mercury Lounge on February 18!