Published Sep 12, 2019After gaining some well-deserved recognition in 2017 with her EP, Lady in Mind, Manitoba native Alexa Dirks of Begonia is back with her debut full-length, Fear, a collection of R&B-inspired pop songs that focus in on heartbreak, insecurity and overcoming challenging emotions to gain full independence.
Written and co-produced with the help of Matt Schellenberg and Matt Peters of Royal Canoe, as well as Arcade Fire's Marcus Paquin, it is no surprise that Fear is loaded with clever lyrics and fun, palatable beats.
Surprisingly enough, the title track is possibly the project's most underwhelming song, with its frantic pace and bizarre selection of background samples. The album is most captivating in its second half; on "Two Beers In," Dirks sings about love and vulnerability over warm synth keys before an intense gospel breakdown, followed by an acceleration of tempo as the instrumental evolves into a '70s disco tune.
Had there been any lulls in production on Fear, it wouldn't have even mattered, as Dirks' powerful voice and poignant lyrics have the ability to hypnotize listeners. The album ends on an optimistic note with the closing track "Put It Away," a song about the liberation that comes with learning to love oneself. "In our darkest hours, we still have some power," Dirks sings over angelic harp, and her voice blends with a choir to fade into the distance.
At the end of the day, Fear is a meditative journey through synths and soft acoustics that ends on a note of self-acceptance. In this album about transition and transformation, it feels gratifying to say that Alexa Dirks of Begonia has truly grown into her own skin. (Rex Baby / Sony Music Canada)