Release Date: February 17th, 2017
There’s something for everyone on Lady in Mind. That’s impressive with only five songs. Though Begonia is a new name, Alexa Dirks brings years of experience to this EP, giving it musical and personal depth.
Let’s start at the beginning: I couldn’t stop moving during “Juniper,” even while sitting on my couch. Alternating punchy and smooth sections keep you guessing. If you’ve listened to Royal Canoe, you’ll hear the influence of Dirks’s co-producers, Matt Schellenberg and Matt Peters. Their distinct layering of electronic flourishes under Dirks’s soulful vocals shows off the collaborative spirit, and great talent, in Winnipeg’s music scene (full disclosure: I’m bragging about my hometown). More importantly, it just sounds great.
Second track “Out of My Head” is a full-bodied, theatrical performance where Dirks lets her voice soar. Fans of Adele will warm to this rich, powerful delivery (though fans of Begonia may be horrified that I dare mention Adele).
For me, the EP hits its lyrical peak in the middle. On the title track “Lady in Mind,” Dirks sings about the images she’s been presented with—whether from family, media, church background, etc.—that tell her how to be feminine. Even for someone without the same experience, this song has a relatable feel. We all have images we try to live up to.
“Hot Dog Stand” is the slowest, most intimate song on the album, driven by melancholy acoustic guitar. The vocals are still raw and powerful, but somehow more tender. Though every song on the album is emotional, it’s easiest to feel it in song, without as much going on in the musical arrangement.
Finally, “I Don’t Wanna (Love U).” This song got lots of radio play, and deserved it. It features a bass line that would sound at home on Motown Records, or in a spy movie. Dirks’s soulful vocals suit those classic styles. Like at the beginning, you want to get up and dance.
Even though you know it’s recorded, you can feel the spontaneous energy of a live performance on the whole EP. Just make sure you catch yourself before you scream for an encore out loud.