Ada Lea — ‘Woman, Here,’ 3.5/5

Ada Lea’s debut record, 2019’s What We Say in Private, was a prickly and elastic rock composition, built from bent folk guitars and an itching stop-start rhythmic pulse.

Lea’s new EP, Woman, Here, is billed as a bridge between that record and what’s to come. It’s a slightly softer set of music, paring back some of the debut’s more rigid textures.

The title track is the only truly new song here — the rest of this brief EP consists of two songs left over from What We Say in Private and the “Woman, Here” demo.

If the opening track is an indication of where Lea is headed, it’s an intriguing taste.

It shares the processed guitars and subtle complexities of her earlier work, but it’s slightly looser and more shambolic, absent of the drum machines that ticked throughout her debut.

Lea’s writing remains sharp as ever — the admittance “I can’t be a woman here” making for one of the most captivating lines in her catalogue.

The entirely acoustic demo version is an interesting peek into Lea’s process. She’s a master of dynamics and space, and the finished track benefits from its layered arrangement.

“Perfect World” is downtempo and atmospheric, awash in mist-like synths that evaporate the song’s sullen tension. A raucous guitar breaks through the haze and the song begins to mutate into something more jagged, a solid encapsulation of what Lea does so well.

The warped sparkle of “Jade” rounds things out and you’re left with what’s essentially a tasting menu of Lea’s multifaceted writing.

While it lacks some of the disorienting dynamic shifts of her debut, Woman, Here is exciting in its own right, a warmer avenue left open to explore.

The EP is a satisfying album to tide us over to whatever Lea has planned next, a taste of the past and a glimpse of what’s to come.