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Ada Lea | What We Say in Private

The multi-media Montreal artist moves from breakup to breakdown to breakthrough.

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WHO IS SHE? A Montreal indie-rock singer-songwriter who is also a painter and visual artist.

WHAT IS THIS? Her outstanding and distinctive debut album, which grew out of a tortuous romantic upheaval that spawned months of introspection, emotional turmoil and self-analysis via painting, journalling and songwriting — not to mention lengthy bouts of insomnia.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Your inner monologue set to stream-of-consciousness songcraft — Lea’s airy vocals are constantly buried in the mix and usually feel off the cuff, ebbing and flowing and meandering along next to her loosely structured, freewheeling songs. At times, she might remind you a bit of everyone from PJ Harvey to Liz Phair, but ultimately she sounds like no one but herself.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Breakup, Breakdown, Breakthrough.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Unless you have lyric sheet, with your eyes closed while you concentrate on trying to make out her every syllable.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Hushed, hypnotic, confessional, bruised, messy, contemplative, probing, hazy, potent, profound.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? It’s really more about the big picture than the individual pieces, but scrappier rockers like The Real Now (Not Pretend) and What Makes Me Sad make good entry points.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘What did she just say?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Depends how often you go through a devastating bustup — or want to relive one.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE CLOTHING, WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING WOULD IT BE? Old sweat pants and a baggy T-shirt.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? She’s already paid for her art. Now it’s your turn.