Throwaway Style: Parisalexa Grows Up and Searches Through Love on Bloom

Throwaway Style, Local Music
01/25/2018
Dusty Henry
photo courtesy of ParisAlexaMusic.com

Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, every Thursday on the KEXP Blog.

 


 

"My mom always says ‘bloom where you’re planted,'" Seattle R&B songwriter Parisalexa says in a press statement for her new EP, Bloom. "I didn’t understand it before, but now I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing."

At 19-years-old, Parisalexa (aka Paris Alexa Williams) boasts more wisdom than most of us could say we did at her age. It's not just in the way she describes her journey, but the way it's felt on Bloom. Since her performance at the 2016 SoundOff!, Williams' presence has elevated the Seattle scene. Whether it's jumping on tracks with COSMOS and Samurai Del or performing with packed crowds on her own, she's effortlessly stepped up with the prowess of a seasoned professional and elevates any track she appears on. But Bloom is truly something special. Beyond all the truly great work she's already done, this is easily the best thing she's done. And it's clearly just the start of something bigger.

 

Bloom, as the title implies, is about growth. She wouldn't be the first artist to self-examine and open themselves on record, but its the elegance, grace, and perspective she brings on the record that makes her latest EP so special. She invokes Tupac Shakur's famous poem as she describes the album, saying, "Sometimes you’re going to have a nice place to grow, but sometimes you just need to be a flower blooming in the crack in the sidewalk. And that's ok." That alone should give you a semblance of an idea of the headspace she's occupying on Bloom. Everyone grows up and grows up in different ways. Williams' take on the coming of age narrative finds its way through explorations of "love." The album follows the highs and lows of a romantic relationship, but it's also about self love. It's a record that's just as concerned with giving yourself up to someone else as it is with loving and valuing yourself. Those aren't contradicting ideas, as she expertly details from track to track.

"If I look stupid, then you look dumb," she belts defiantly on opener "Rabbithole." There's an underlying tension throughout the song as Williams fights her own feelings. She's falling in love, but doesn't want to lose the "upper hand." It's that internal battle that comes with – for lack of a better word – a crush. You don't want to lose control, but you can feel yourself slipping to your own feelings. The way she presents falling in love as confrontational is just one of her many demonstrations of her advanced wisdom on Bloom.

Then on the very next song, "Deadhead," she's already talking about cutting out a toxic lover. "Why would you diminish my significance?" she sings. There's maybe another universe where this song is a raucous takedown of an asshole who didn't treat her right, but yet again Williams offers an even smarter take. Yeah, the dude sounds toxic, but she's putting her own self-worth ahead of whatever nonsense he was offering to her. It's not a song about him, it's a song about her. She doesn't let her own faults go, as she details on "Leaves and Seasons." There's really no guide to how to behave when you're infatuated with someone. How much space do you give them? Is too much space bad? What do you do when you want to be around someone all the time but don't want to inadvertently push them away? There's a sweetness to how she expresses her own doubts and insecurities, finding the tenderness hiding in our own idiosyncrasies that drive our partners crazy.

One thing I haven't touched on yet is Williams' voice and... wow. It's a total marvel on a technical level. "Rabbithole" (formerly known as "Hole in the Ground") gives a broad view of what she can do. Soaring high notes, swooning low rolls, rapid triplets, and intoxicating harmonies all intertwine between the verses and choruses. Her transitions in tempo are so effortless you can barely tell how you got from one section to the other. Her smooth falsettos on "Garden," intertwining with a guest performance from Mista DC, channel the sensual undertones of the song. She might sound the most vibrant when she is singing about self love. She's infectious on "Dandelion," recounting waking up and feeling good and not picking up a phone call that she knows will only bring her negative energy into her life. "I'm so happy, can't wait see all I'm gonna be," she says, and later references "falling in love with the woman I'm becoming." It's empowering, lovely, and elating all at once.

That all of this ends with "Cross Pollinate," an ode to wanting to have a baby with a soulmate, is apt for the themes of the record. Falling in love with someone else and with yourself can be hard. But when you find both, it's natural for it to become something even bigger. To be so in love that you want to create life, how could there be something more romantic? Williams finds power dreaming of the day she and her lover finally have a child.

Williams is a young songwriter, but her maturity here is astounding. It's amazing to wonder how she'll continue to grow after Bloom, already exemplifying an astounding maturity on this EP. Her story will continue to unravel, but the snippets she's sharing here are timeless.

Bloom is out tomorrow. Follow Parisalexa on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter to hear the album when it comes out.

 

 

 

 

 

New and News

 

Advertisement Announces Debut EP, This is Advertisement, Shares "Cryin' Wild"

Earlier this week Help Yourself Records announced their latest signee, Seattle rockers Advertisement. The quintet is set to release their debut EP, This is Advertisement, on Feb. 23. Featuring members of Vacant Life and Nasti, the band's music is actually more outside of the hardcore realm than their past work might imply. On their first single, "Cryin' Wild," highlights the rollicking rock and roll sound the band is embodying. There's a nostalgic quality to the music, like a demo from a lost punk basement session. It's an invigorating listen with swooping melodies and undeniably catchy guitar licks.

 

 

Moon Duo cover Iggy Pop and Alan Vega on New 12-inch

Portland psych-rockers Moon Duo don't seem to take breaks. Last year they released two LPs, Occult Architecture Vol. 1 & 2, and already they're back at it again. Their latest experiment is a new 12-inch record covering two iconic punk legends: Iggy Pop and Alan Vega. Their covers of Iggy's "No Fun" first emerged from a version they did for the Stooges' frontman's 70th birthday for BBC6 while Vega's "Jukebox Babe" got in their heads from their sound engineer repeatedly singing the infectious melody. These new versions are as expansive, freaky, and wild as you might expect from such an adventurous band.

 

 

 

Live and Loud: This Week's Recommended Show

 

Jan. 25: Familiars, Michete, Biblioteka and Paisley Devil at Chop Suey

 

 

Jan. 25: Distinction Management Compilation Release with Raven Hollywood, Perry Porter, Michete, Ancient Mariner, Brakebill, The City Hall, and SEACATS at Kremwerk

 

 

Jan. 26: Timbrrr! Winter Music Fest with Cave Singers, Hobosexual, Y La Bamba, Great Grandpa, The Black Tones, and more

 

 

Jan. 26: So Pitted, Vomitface, and TERMINATor at The Central Saloon

 

 

Jan. 27: Naked Sessions featuring Tomo Nakayama and Little Spirits at Naked City Brewery & Taphouse

 

 

Jan. 27: GLUE Launch Party with Buje Mane, Taylar Elizza Beth, Sharlese, J-Nasty, and MK at The Cauldron

 

 

Jan. 28: ParisAlexa, Lunarbass, and jovani at Substation

 

 

Jan. 31: Lilac, AIAIA, and Leanna Keith at Stone Way Cafe

 

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