Hiss Golden Messenger
Alexa Rose, No Bowling after 9:15pm
Brooklyn Bowl Nashville
925 3rd Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37201
Valid photo ID required at door for entry
This event is general admission standing room only
Doors: 6:00 PM
Show: 8:00 PM
Hiss Golden Messenger
Originally from Alleghany County, Virginia, Alexa Rose now lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She grew up singing and playing piano, but she didn’t begin to develop her songwriting until she was in her early twenties, leaving home for the first time after college. “I take pride in where I’m from,” says Alexa, “and my appreciation for community and the value of small towns definitely informs my writing. But there’s also what comes from touring, the joy of driving around and seeing the rest of the world. That’s just as much an influence as where I’m from.” This heightened sense of the world suffuses Headwaters, giving it its cinematic bent without sacrificing any of the intimacy of her first album, Medicine for Living.
“Pretty much all of Headwaters was written during the pandemic,” says Alexa, “in that weird lucid feeling of not-time.” Recorded over five sessions in Memphis, Tennessee at Delta Sonic Studios, with Bruce Watson producing, with mixing by Matt Ross-Spang and Clay Jones. Alexa would sometimes bring songs written the night before and record them the next day with an all-star band, including guitarist Will Sexton, bassist Mark Stuart, drummer George Sluppick, and Al Gamble on organ and piano. The immediacy of being in the studio with freshly-written songs and an excellent band allowed Alexa to expand her music in new ways.
“I feel like this record is the first time I’ve ever let my whole self into the room,” says Alexa. “The parts of me that are angry and wanting to stand up and the parts that want to be quiet. The parts that remember being a kid. Letting myself release all of that in the studio and having all these people back me up and make it work was a tremendous gift.”
On opening track “Clearwater Park,” Alexa sings, “But I don’t remember the street that you live on. I just remember the turns in the road.” Alexa then pulls us back to the startling present, where she sits alone on a porch, remembering: “Feels like a ghost town tonight with the paper mill lights burning holes in the cloak of the dark.” It’s a jarring transition, the kind that gives the music a tension and spark.
“I was reflecting on sitting at the end of a dead-end road with a childhood friend I hadn’t talked to in a really long time,” Alexa says, “thinking about how hard it can be talking to old friends who have taken a different path from you. People don’t plan to change just like the rain doesn’t plan to change into snow. The song is about coming to terms with that, and forgiving myself for being the one who changed as well.”
One of Headwaters’ finest moments is “Wild Peppermint,” also the last song written and recorded for the album. The lyrics embody the way the past and present flow in and out of each other, melding in a fluid and watery way. “Somebody broke my heart/The way that I broke yours,” sings Alexa. “You always said we’d move to Vermont/I found a new dream to haunt.” But the song never sounds bitter or angry. It’s hopeful, with Alexa’s voice carrying the wisdom gained from heartbreak but also the joy to be found in new things, in every new experience coming. That mixture of past and present, innocence and wisdom, is where Alexa’s music shines brightest, the realm she most wants to explore.
“The headwaters are the source of the river,” says Alexa. “the furthest point from where the water merges with something else. They aren’t a mighty thing. Just a network of small tributaries or a creek, not necessarily picturesque, but they’re the most important part of the river. Water is fluid and inconsistent and sacred and indifferent. That’s how the songs feel to me—the way memories find you, in that inconsistent water way. As quickly as you come across them, you’re going to bend in another direction. And that’s what makes them beautiful. That’s what makes them last.”