When Alexa Dirks started describing her latest album as Begonia, Powder Blue, she turns to vivid imagery: her baby blanket, the airiness of clouds on a summer day, chlorine-filled water in a hotel pool, circa-1970s Elvis Presley wearing an ill-fitting jumpsuit, her collection of faded denim jackets. “Powder Blue is more of an emotion,” explains the Winnipeg, Canada, native. “The name of this album needed to be something that encompasses all of the feelings that these songs give me when they are put together. When I listen to them as a unit, they send me back to the words, the color.”
Fittingly, Powder Blue’s music feels timeless and classic, as well as eclectic. Trip-hop beats and propulsive grooves pulse throughout the album, shadowing Dirks' stunning voice; she alternates between a dusky croon and an expressive, belting delivery. The album nods to vintage soul ("I'm Not Dying," "Crying") sunny R&B ("Bleeding Heart") and soaring balladry ("Chasing Every Sunrise"). Yet the album is firmly in the realm of contemporary music: Standout "The Only One" is modern, keyboard-polished pop that features Dirks' most powerful vocal performance on the album.
Begonia has exhibited such power since emerging into the Canadian music scene on the strength of her critically acclaimed 2017 EP Lady In Mind and her 2019 debut full-length album, Fear. The latter was nominated for a JUNO Award for Adult Alternative Album Of The Year and was longlisted for The Polaris Music Prize. Songs from the album were also heard in numerous productions on Netflix & Oprah Winfrey Network, and NPR named Begonia as one of 10 Artists You Need to Know.
. “And then some of it was written through all these different waves of taking care ofmyself—and thennottaking care of myself.”Despite the turmoil from which it emerged,Powder Bluerepresents Dirks feeling settled bycoming to terms with her past and present.“The last record I wrote felt a bit more frantic,”shesays.“And it's so interesting that this was all written during the time of pandemic, amidst asense of loss and longing,but it doesn't feel as frantic to me. Even the namePowder Blue, itfeels like a bit calmer even though there are still moments of release. There is a sense of calm inthe unkn