An album that feels like a collaboration between heartbreak and new hope...

It’s always a comfortable thing when a songwriter is this open. It’s like they’ve cracked open their shell and the juices are running out - and it’s often those juices that set them apart from other musicians.

Pretend 'what we say in private' is a coconut - break it open, and you’ve discovered a whole new world. Feeling like the slap in the face you’ve been asking and asking for, Ada Lea’s debut album 'what we say in private' is initially a slick, emotive, broody marriage.

Ada’s lead feels like a soft, warmly lit embrace, her vocal summoning images of a room galoshed with earthy fabrics and wooden furniture. It’s that kind of comfortable. Whilst the atmosphere of the album is generally soft and acoustic, there are moments in muted tracks where rolls of guitar mask every other tone in the track. Each song presents itself as a story-in-miniature; a perfectly crafted beginning, middle, end (albeit sometimes the artistry of the track makes the listening experience more middle, end, beginning).

There are perfect wonks dotted throughout the album: in ‘Mercury’, ‘What Makes Me Sad’, and ‘For Real Now Not Pretend’. Acoustic-and-vocal heavy artists are receiving an overwhelming amount of praise at the moment; and certainly for good reason.

With tones of Julia Jacklin, Marika Hackman, and Wolf Alice, Ada Lea is in good company. 'what we say in private' is consistently overlaid with sound effects from street corners, from cafes, from birdsong; there’s always a hum of life resounding through each track.

The album feels like a collaboration between heartbreak and new hope, traditional and new, and the internal and external. Each track has something unexpected up its sleeve; this is indie songwriting at its finest, and Ada’s vocals are the cherry on top.

7/10

Words: Erin Bashford

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