EP: Heartbreak in Movements by Alexa Lash

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Based in Miami, Florida, singer-songwriter Alexa Lash has just presented her second release to the world: the EP entitled “Heartbreak in Movements”. If it were up to me to pick a name for this EP then I wouldn’t have chosen a better one, for the album is composed of string instruments and a piano that were recorded in an open room studio. The organic and heart-shattering feel of the vocals on this record is laid against a backdrop of classical (and classical-inspired) arrangements that fit perfectly with being called “movements”. Now that we have the title aside, the artwork is composed of a bunch of abstract elements put together to have a different reception that’s very subjective to every fan and everyone who comes across it, and it’s great to see an artwork that’s good enough to exist as a separate piece from the album like this. 

 

Now on to the tracks themselves; the first track, Not Fine, is a great show of the immense range and technicality that Alexa has. With the opening strings and the piano passage, the vocals begin with a full and resonant chest register that relies on timbre and twang to show its emotional qualities. Later on in the verse, she lifts her intonation way up into the mixed register without losing any of the melody or beauty that she began with – an amazing malleability that’s rarely found when singers go higher in their range. Another ability I came to appreciate just from the first track was the control of her nasality and how she doesn’t make it sound extra or overdone but on the contrary, her consonant clarity and accent give her voice a special and unique personality. The song makes use of the lower-ranged strings to keep things on an adequate level of emotion to the vocals and lyrics, and the brightness of the piano contrasts that atmosphere with a much-needed element of vulnerability and fragility.

The second track, Weak, has slightly different vocal styles. The overall vibe is still close, as it’s still mostly wailing and emotional passages, but this time around we hear a lot more of the head and heady to mixed register. In the refrain, we can hear the violins taking the lead role in the melody, and this serves to prove how the recording style of the album serves its emotional and musical purpose of being an emotional and raw-sounding record. My favourite part of the track has got to be the bridge and its subsequent outro. The most brilliant and thoughtful line in the lyrics is: 

“Is this what love, is this what love’s supposed to feel like, feel like 

Do wrong, do wrong until you’re finally doing something right”

Miracle is the first track to put some effects and processing on the vocals. Their style feels a lot more rock-ish when compared to the bluesy/retro style of the previous tracks, which made me wonder how all these different styles and flavors work with such a super classical arrangement. This track’s hook/chorus is one of my favorite moments on the entire record, and it’s all thanks to the smoothness of the string arrangement that creates a natural and raw feeling of magic and mesmerization. 

Let Her Move On begins with a piano melody that reminds me of big classical songs like those that used to be arranged for Edith Piaf. Alexa sounded like a mix of Tori Amos and Amy Winehouse here, and I never would’ve thought a singer would be able to mix elements from these two. Her won personality outshines her influences though once the pre-chorus and chorus of the song hit, where she once again plays around with her different registers like it’s an easy task and like her voice is one wide-ranged instrument because of how smooth her breaks sound. This is a number that’s so timeless it perfectly belongs to the 1940s, 1960s, and 2023 all at once. The ominous and dark melody that the strings play during the chorus is similar to nothing I’ve ever heard before, and they go full throttle with the vocal riffing on the final chorus – the moment that makes this track a total masterpiece.

 

The fifth and final track, MIA, has fast-paced and percussive piano staccatos which made me think of how different this song would’ve sounded if it had different instrumentation…maybe it will be just the same when they play it live, who knows? The lyrics feel like a resentful personal conversation towards an ex-lover or friend that the song’s protagonist has a bad history with. The arrangement sounds classical enough to fit with the rest of the tracks, but somehow there’s an element to it that feels like those strings are piano are arranged and playing in a way that’s more akin to more modern genres like rock, blues, and even musical theatre…especially with that cello solo that made me wonder if it was written on guitar then converted to the cello. 

All in all, this album has a lot of moments that made me think of the musicianship and songwriting process behind them but even more moments where I was just ensnared by the sheer emotions of the music and just closed my eyes to feel the emotions channeled by Alexa’s gliding through the notes and passages of her range and how she pertains those emotions no matter what technique or part of the range she’s in. For a sophomore release, this album feels like it has years of musical knowledge and experience behind it, and Alexa has worked for over a year on this particular album in a way that paid off and garnered more than the sum of its parts.