By Graeme Wiggins
VANCOUVER – Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’ latest album, Stranger in the Alps, strikes a rare balance. The Los Angeles based artist has created an emotional collection of songs that speak from the heart while maintaining a sense of humour to make it a relatable experience for all.
“I’m trying to find the balance between being sincere and not being too intense,” Bridgers explains. “Letting people know that I’m serious about what I’m saying. I don’t want to italicize the subtext. It’s just life. I want to say it how it is and not make it too intense. With my songs I try to write like I’m talking to someone.”
When one does write very relatable emotional music, fans can get pretty intense. This is a concern Bridgers shares with some of her prominent musical friends: Connor Oberst, Ryan Adams, and Julien Baker. Bridgers takes that responsibility seriously but her down-to-earth persona captures a slightly more diverse crowd. As she puts it, “I do have intense fans but I also have women who are really like me. Who kind of talk like a surfer. “Dude your record is sick!” There’s a Venn diagram between how intense they are versus their bro-y attitude.”
It also helps that she talks about relatable things, fairly frankly. The idea of the vulnerability that arises from sent sexts comes up on her song “Demi Moore.” Make no mistake however, she’s definitely not against the idea: “Oh I’m so pro sexting. I could talk about this for so long. I’m so pro sexting because, especially for young people. TMI I lost my virginity on high school campus and I wasn’t allowed to sext or allowed to have boys over. Or girls. I wasn’t allowed to have girls sleep in my bed because my parents knew I was bisexual. I felt this weird shame about it,” she says. “I don’t know one full grown adult who didn’t have some sort of movie theatre experience in their early teens. It’s the same thing, only safer. And there’s more consent.”
Bridgers deals with serious issues in her songwriting and sometimes that means getting people out of their seats at shows can be difficult. In some cities that meant covering Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy,” which was a crowd pleaser. It also involved confetti filled balloons when performing “Scott St.” For Vancouver, she has a secret weapon: “You can look forward to an emo cover of Japandroids. I fucking love Japandroids so much and always try to cover a Japandroids song in Vancouver. When I was opening for people that’s how I won over Vancouver.”
Phoebe Bridgers performs April 24 at the Cobalt