Montreal, QC indie-pop singer-songwriter Ada Lea (Alexandra Levy) just shared her latest single, “Hurt,” the first taste of new music since her “woman, here” EP from March 2020. With a slow, brooding pace, itself placing a significant emphasis on her raw, emotive songwriting, “Hurt” transports the listener into the world of a protagonist so pure, yet so vulnerable; honest, yet so distraught. The song resides in a snowy Montreal winter, her own familiar home, which lives and breathes through her music.
“I could say it or say nothing at all / Take a walk or take none at all / Get on a bus back to Montreal / Make a plan or plan nothing at all / I could make it there fast / I could make it there slow / But silence is a shadow / When it is swallowed whole.”
Written by Ada (guitar/vocals), and co-produced with Marshall Vore (synths/percussion), they are joined also by Harrison Whitford (guitar/bass), Eve Parker Finley (strings), Tasy Hudson (drums) and Johanna Samuels (backing vocals). With an equally haunting music video to accompany the release, Ada acknowledges that it was always her intent to use frank language and imagery. “I wanted to find a way to communicate complicated feelings using the simplest language possible,” she shares. “I came with a narrative and removed almost every detail, so as not to obfuscate the feeling, but left it open in terms of a resolution: was this hurt necessarily a bad thing?”
Hitting the quieter, low notes, Ada’s voice offers similarities to contemporaries such as Sarah Harmer and Charlotte Cornfield (I even detect hints of “Silver Civic” at times), but when the song hits its peak, that same voice is carried by a swirl of strings and quick-tempo keys, evoking raw emotions, whilst rendering goosebumps. The music video, featuring cinematography from Peter Hostak under the direction of producer Monse Muro, taps into the same intensity, opening with Ada sat at a decorated table awash in de-saturated colors, before peculiar images and colors flash through – dictated by Ada’s emotive vocal delivery.
Taking a chance on any new single from a relatively little-known artist is nothing new here at GDW, but sometimes, stumbling upon a gem such as this impacts us in unexpected ways. “Hurt” is a prime example, being such a powerful, emotional, haunting piece that warrants multiple spins, and once encountered, is not quickly forgotten. So simple in its construction and approach, yet so alluring, so appealing, and beautiful in its execution. I’m sure I could spend much more time dissecting the merits of this stunning tune, but to be honest, I’d much rather shut down the laptop and go spend my time with this one some more. Ada’s Montreal winter is such a beautiful place, after all.
“Somebody hurt me badly / Now I’m stuck in a rut / Now I’m going crazy / Somebody hurt me badly / Now I’m stuck in a rut / Now I don’t know my body.”