With a new unplugged album, Edmonton-born Alyssa Reid steps away the radio pop hits such as ‘Alone Again’ that originally made her famous. Phoenix, Reid’s third album, is stripped down, emotional, and reveals a new side to the pop star.
“I just really wanted to release an album that focuses very specifically on the music, that isn’t about big pop production, that’s just about beautiful lyrics connecting with people” Reid explains.
Reid is an accomplished songwriter, and her lyrics are showcased brilliantly behind the album’s raw and simple instrumentation to create emotionally intense songs, something that you may not suspect from the surprising way the album was recorded.
“All of my vocals were recorded in somebody’s closet,” Reid laughs. “We were doing the record in a home studio, and honestly it sounds the exact same as an isolation booth, except it’s someone’s closet so with their clothes.”
It almost seems fitting that such emotional vocals were recorded in a closet. Reid’s voice is heart wrenching, and the lyrics themselves show a vulnerability that goes well with an unplugged album.
“It’s almost like reading a diary,” Reid says. “Every single song tells a story.”
Many of the songs’ lyrics read like they could have been ripped directly from the pages of the singer’s own diary, featuring private stories of dreams, struggle and heartbreak. The emotional title track is about finding strength following an unhealthy relationship, but the theme that a phoenix represents has even more significance for Reid.
“I liked the idea of calling the album Phoenix, as it also can represent my journey throughout my musical career, and life, and becoming a woman, and just a lot of transitional periods in my life, and getting through those and becoming stronger because of them,” she says.
The album is mainly backed by beautiful piano melodies; however, the songs “Suffocating” and “Can’t Keep Waiting” are made exceptionally haunting and emotional with cello instrumentation. They are the kind of songs that remind you of your own heartbreak.
While the album is unplugged, the songs on Phoenix still have a pop tempo, and the stripped down music allows the powerful vocals to shine through. The songs would likely sound even more powerful performed live, something Reid hopes she is able to do in the future.
“I would love to do raw, intimate, very unplugged shows,” she says. “It starts with just a piano and I, and as the show builds more instruments are introduced to the song and by the end of the set it’s that full pop production that everyone normally expects,” Reid explains, comparing the building of the live show to her song ‘Tomorrow.’
‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Dangerous’ both fit more with the singer’s traditional pop sound than the rest of the album, but they do not distract from the emotion of the other songs, and being placed at the end, do not seem to be the focus of the album.
Phoenix breaks away from the previous sound that Reid had created with her past two albums,but she hopes to do more than just change her sound with the her new record.
“I really hope it connects with people,” she says. “I really love being able to connect with people on a deeper level than just throwing out a catchy song for radio.”