07-04-2017: A day of debuts that had been long anticipated by many with an interest in the music industry. A first time solo single from One Direction’s Harry Styles had taken control of the airways by 10am, despite whichever station you deemed suitable to tune into. However, a little out of the main glare of the spotlight, 21-year-old Alexandra Savior sat a little in the dark – lying in wait to release her own debut album [Belladonna of Sadness] out into the wilderness.

The Portland native rose onto the radars of music lovers in 2016 with debut track Risk, a song that sat happily amongst a combination of tunes that made up the soundtrack for series True Detective. The track had been co-written alongside Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner which, ultimately, left fans and critics sniffing at her door. Since this spur into the spotlight, she’s maintained a musical image that is weaved with independence by directing her own music videos, hand sewing
merchandise, and drawing or photographing album artwork for herself in order to avoid any pre-made industry “mould”. Despite the efforts of others, Savior continues to remain nothing more than herself.

Diehard fans may know Savior better as Alexandra Mcdermott, a young girl sat singing covers of Angus & Julia Stone and Amy Winehouse in her bedroom and posting them on YouTube. But as things got bigger for the singer, she decided to chuck surname Mcdermott aside and go by her first and middle name. This decision came with the idea that she was creating a certain persona for herself. Her own version of who she wanted to be; somebody who almost always looks as if she has stepped from the screen of a retro movie rather than from a room full of musical clones created in an industry’s attempt to make money. She hopes her own success will come alongside this refusal to conform.

Like many young musicians on a journey to chase the stars, Savior moved to Los Angeles as soon as she had completed high school. Living in an apartment behind a strip club, she was signed to a record deal at which she ultimately found herself being adapted into something the industry deems 'sellable'. According to a session with Interview magazine, Alexandra stated that she was “unimpressed with the city’s superficial social scene”, however it was here that she met key figures in her own story; Alex Turner as well as producer James Ford who has worked on past albums alongside the Arctic Monkeys.

The lead up to her debut album was one full of sparks. After co-writing song Miracle Aligner for Turner’s musical duo The Last Shadow Puppets she performed at a number of shows in America as an opening act to fill the time before Turner and band partner Miles Kane took to the stage. At points, she was even joined mid-set by Alex who complemented her voice with some slick guitar accompaniment.

So, it’s now arrived. An 11 track EP by Savior that we can physically turn in our hands, play in our cars and spin in our record players.

This album began to cross its original stepping stones towards release during the sun of mid-June. It was on the 17th day of the month that Savior presented us with her first official release track – Shades. With a debut song, you often find that an artist will attempt to mirror some of the popular aspects that form the on-trend tracks within the charts. Savior’s attempt at a first release, however, was a song that seemed both impassioned and new; something she had created out of a classic style that had been deemed old and long forgotten. She seems rooted with ideas from the past yet her sound feels both futuristic and up-and-coming. It’s funky bass line complemented by her smoky vocals seem to give off a large cinematic eye-roll in the direction of society. In the words of Savior herself, “[Shades] is about knowing you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be, and revelling in it.”

The following single from the new album, M.T.M.E [‘Music To My Ears’], followed a similar approach. It’s vengeful one liners are an attempt to pick apart the dissatisfaction she finds in her life and the world that surrounds her. She also directed her own video for this track; a combination of iridescent light and a murderous, horror movie style – one which is carried throughout the whole album in each of her tracks. They come together to create a heavy vibe, of which she describes as “feminist angst with a horror film feel”.

Belladonna of Sadness, as an album, is a combination of hypnotizing wordplay, femininity and the extra bonus of a selection of the many musical ticks that belong to Alex Turner himself. In some ways, it’s easily describable as an Arctic Monkeys lovechild. Change the key pronoun in each track from ‘she’ to ‘he’ and it could slide right in to any one of their set lists. Yet, one thing that Savior creates within her music is a sense of herself that she speaks so fondly of. She stays true to any promises she has made and creates a feeling of star power that only arises when you’re unapologetically yourself. She has an effortlessly cool demeanour, a sense of mystery just brewing at her surface meaning that, despite any comparisons to her collaborators, every word sung is made her own. She has well and truly created a new trademark for herself.

“The most important thing about the music industry I’ve learnt is that it’s total bullshit, and that the thing you should focus on the most is just the art.” 
– Alexandra Savior.

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