I listened to Alexia Avina for the first time just over a fortnight ago. I went in blind, the only hint I had to what she might sound like was the genre given to her by Apple Music – Alternative Folk. These meagre words were absolutely no preparation for what was to come. ‘All That I Can’t See’, Alexia’s sophomore record, in the best way possible sounds like it’s blowing around in the wind. In each of it’s wandering soundscapes you can hear the countryside that gave rise to it – Avina moved there to make the album, retreating to the studio every evening when the clock struck 12 midnight. As planned, she finished the whole thing within seven days.
Acoustic guitar, enchanting vocals and endless effects interact with one another to achieve a levitational quality that perforates every corner of the album. Fans who ordered her last album, received a shell from the Pacific Ocean, handpicked and dried from the Angeles Mountain, with their order; this time you’ll get a camomile tea blend and a dried sage. This goes to show the value Avina places on her nature, and it really comes through in her work.
Avina is also big on mindfulness. Her idea to record the album in seven days was “an attempt to honor the magic that comes with living in the moment.” She performs sat down, eager to feel the stage’s friction against her body. The title track though is about a time anxiety blocked her attempts to be present. On a Instagram post she admits that this record is “the first time I had consciously challenged myself to write about broader themes than love/longing/hurt” going on to say that she’s ‘struggled through and lived with anxiety in the past two years.’ Anxiety may have informed the album, but the songs that result from it will act as a balm to many, it’s transcendental haze deadening our thoughts and pulling us into it’s vortex of wonder. Listen below and accompany it with the descriptions of each song provided by Avina herself.
This song is about not listening to my intuition and lying awake at night because of it, debating with myself whether to stay the night or walk home. The demo of this song was originally titled ‘Baby,’ but when I sent it to a friend to help with a sample rate issue he sent it back titled ‘Adult’ and I just kept it like that. I didn’t really want to write a song called ‘Baby’ and in a way it makes more sense to call it ‘Adult’ because it encapsulates a bit more of the nuances that come with figuring out what being an adult means and realizing there’s no set path to doing it, a lot of floundering is involved in figuring out your own voice.
I based this piece around a field recording of my brother and I on my family’s land in Oregon a few years back. He was chopping away at the blackberry bushes that notoriously spring up every summer while I sat closeby in the upper pasture.
This is about a memory I have of watching my partner of the time across some shrubs and tall grass as he sat alone, writing music in his head, nodding along to it in silence as the sun shone on his face and illuminated all his features. That moment is engrained in my memory as a very beautiful moment. I found myself returning to it after a series of more challenging experiences.
This one is about a crazy whirlwind summer romance experience that just happened too quickly. Even as I knew it wasn’t working out I kept on trying to summon up and nurture that initial feeling that arose when we first met. However, all the while I held that same feeling of isolation, that same icy intuition that I tried to push away as being indecipherable when really I knew what it was all along.
A follow up to the previous song, the evolution of the story. Returning to meet on more common ground and finding the same patterns, setting my boundaries, knowing my truth.
All That I Can’t See:
This song is the first time I’ve written about anxiety regarding health, pain and the body which is something I’ve dealt with the past few years. It’s an incredibly isolating and enveloping experience to find oneself in, as if the whole world shrinks down to the level of subjective sensation and reaction, a place no one else can touch. I wrote this song during one fo those overwhelmed states as a way to try to create something out of it for once.
A Ficus Tree:
A friend and I met on a sunny, extremely windy winter day. We went to the park in the afternoon and no one was out because it was so blustery, but it was as if we were being let in on a huge secret that everyone who wasn’t outside was missing out on. The sky opened up in a beautifully vast array of purples hues, we ran around like children on the soccer field. The ease of being a child is a feeling I used to mourn often, and one I’m trying to foster in my attitude now.
This song is about recognizing where I was at in terms of my lack of diligence in cultivating mindfulness and awareness, against the backdrop of the places I have always wanted to reach. In other words, the feeling of not using my full potential as a human on this earth against the vision of true transformation, growth, and purpose. This isn’t to say that I don’t feel that way anymore, but I’m working on my vigilance and perseverance, I want this to be the year that sticks.