Best new music 2017 - Alexandra Savior: the new queen of noir
Written for The Telegraph [6/4/17]
Who is she?
A 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon, who pens rich noir-pop with the likes of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner. Saviorhas more than a million streams on Spotify for her single Shades, a track that features on her debut album, released this week.
Her precocious lyricism, which often details characters seeking vengeance, escape, or embracing love in wild abandonment, is surely the envy of her peers.
How did she get here?
Savior started singing and writing music when she was 14. Her cover of Angus and Julia Stone's Big Jet Plane, which she posted on YouTube in 2010 aged 15, was the catalyst for her musical career. "A manager called me [about the cover] and I wasn't really taking it seriously," she says. "When you're 15 you're not thinking about your career. You're just thinking about passing history classes and things."
Savior spent her final two high-school years juggling studies with songwriting, collaborating where she could with Los Angeles-based musicians. She was later introduced to Turner "really artificially" through her label, Columbia Records. "Alex had been wanting to write with a female artist and I was wanting a new sound to hide behind... it just kinda came together," she says. Turner is credited as co-writer and co-producer (along with co-producer James Ford) on her debut record Belladonna of Sadness, though Savior wrote the majority of the tracks herself.
What does she sound like?
Think slinky, mid-tempo burners à la Lana Del Rey with spaghetti western guitars. Savior's lyrical themes are cinematic in vision, brimming with make-believe tales of espionage or stories cloaked in identity metaphors. Better still is Savior's gorgeous, sultry vocal, which at its breathiest recalls Dusty Springfield.
Who are her influences?
Old-school chanteuses such as Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piath are major influences but Savior clarifies that her tastes are ever-changing. Her current obsession is Seventies Spanish duo Elia Y Elizabeth and their song Alegria. "I've been listening to that like, insane," she says. "Every time the first note hits, me and my friends have a little car dance". She's also a fan of Californian rock trio Cherry Glazerr. "They're the s--- and are definitely progressing with their records and live shows."
What does she say about her own music?
"I think I'm gonna make a T-Shirt that says that," Savior laughs. "I can't do that. I've tried it before and everybody just gets really confused because it's this big visualisation of me being like 'and then there's a UFO and then there's the tumbleweed and a black silk curtain, or something...' It's sort of like somebody asking you your own personality traits. You have a jaded view of what you wish you were and what you actually are and I am very gated in my musical identity."