There’s a dark intimacy evoked on singer/songwriter Alexandra Riorden’s debut album Angel City Radio. On her psychedelic and at times nightmarish sortie through the growing pains of trauma healing, Riorden’s debut record evokes a dark but cathartic intimacy. That trauma, detailed on the dazed recollections of album opener “Animals,” came in the form of a horrifying home invasion that Riorden herself experienced while living in Los Angeles that shocked her into a state of hypervigilance and distrust. It’s the stirring tension between Riorden’s need to ensure her own safety and a desire to still connect openly with people — to be romantic and free-spirited — that is transmitted over the evocative and mercurial airwaves of Angel City Radio.
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Riorden expands her healing journey into a profoundly cathartic and wryly satiric commentary of a generation — and a world — that is just now itself wrestling with the aftermaths of their own traumas. “Mojo Mountain” gives voice to a generation of discontent in the form of a smokey-folk anthem; while on the lushly melancholic “Day by Day” Riorden’s glowing croons risk an air of hope from beneath the crushing weight our lives can burden us with.
Other songs like “The Barrier,” a bittersweet ballad that pairs Riorden’s gutting songwriting with an anguished medley of guitars that tackle the death of her uncle and the misery that comes with simply being human. “Silver Screen” struggles with the doubts one can have while determining the legitimacy of the love we are simultaneously searching for and receive — strung as they are to Riorden’s lofty but anxious cries.
And the closer you get to the end of Angel City Radio‘s odyssey, the more plain Riorden’s growth despite the trauma and pain becomes. The tender poetics of “We Don’t Want the Same Things” emerges on the other side as a powerful declaration that instead of hiding from the pain and becoming disheartened by it, Riorden chooses to persevere with as much faith in herself as she has in other people. “Angel City Radio (outro)” completes Riorden’s cyclical journey inward with a revisit to the place of trauma itself: with the woozy beaming of “Animals” over a ballooning and spacious string arrangement that floats bewitchingly into the night.
“You experience a trauma and then a lot of different things come up and you hopefully make progress, but it’s not just like it’s over and you’re done. Things come up again and again, but every time they do you’re getting stronger and making strides towards healing,” Riorden said of the album. “So much of this record was born from the healing process. Being able to listen and look back and realize that I made it through that makes me feel like I can make it through anything. I hope this sense of resilience will comfort and inspire whoever listens to the album, through whatever healing process they may be going through.”
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Listen to Alexandra Riorden’s new album Angel City Radio below or stream it here.