Don’t be fooled by the breezy melodies and zippy rhythms on Lexie Roth’s new self-titled album. These are introspective songs about nostalgia, death and longing and each has its own story to tell.
“These were all songs that came out of a three-year period of my life [where I] was especially struggling,” Roth explains, “I learned a lot in those three years and as a result the material I’ve been producing deals with some heavy stuff.”
On this collection of ballads, Roth’s honeyed voice croons effortlessly over consistent guitar lines and pattering percussion. In “Forget All About Me” she broods over love’s abuse: “So I rolled up in a ball, stayed where I was, he kicked me in the side, but all I felt was love”. The coy “I Have To Leave You”, with its syncopated rhythms and fragmented instrumentation, mirrors the confusion of breaking up, offering a stark contrast to the playful melody with its bleak lyrics: “I have to leave you, you say you wanna leave me too, but I don’t believe you, so I have to leave you”. The album closes with “Country Diddy”, a bouncy song reduced to simple guitar strumming, vocal harmonies and ominous choral voices whirring in the background. Half sung, half spoken, it is a convoluted story about death that is anything but depressing.
Like any good folk or country song, these songs have soothing, uncomplicated melodies. “When I write […] it always starts with a nice riff on the guitar then it grows from there,” Roth says, “The music gives me a certain feeling and I run with it. Then as I start to sing along, words start meshing with the guitar and I get inspired to write new parts and it all kinda comes together, just like cooking a meal.”
And like any good rock or pop song, Roth’s tempos are stirring. For that she credits her love for disco and house music as well as Motown hits. “I grew up with two Jukeboxes that were constantly playing and my sister and I would dance all through the house every day and night to the classics,” she recalls.
For a change of pace from these mellow songs, she has recently started producing and performing an electronic side project named A Bordo.
“I couldn’t live without music,” Roth says, “It makes me feel, and lets me express the deepest things I need to express. It couldn’t feel more natural to me.”
Roth will be playing at The Bitter End in New York City on June 21st. “I do love intimate clubs,” she attests, “because you get to connect with the audience in such a special way […] but on the same level- of uplifting and special and powerful- is playing to an enormous crowd that you can’t see because you feel the energy.”
Her genuine love for music and performing is as palpable as her genuine love for life, for all its ups and downs. On “Little One”, sprinkled with dainty xylophone notes, she sings “Just close your eyes and remember what it’s like to be alive.”
These songs might seem melancholy but perhaps their tone is as bright as their melodies after all.