ACES isn’t a collection of tracks; it’s a gateway to a worldview, one face of a meticulously defined aesthetic.When we listen to it, we find ourselves living for a few minutes with the creator, Alex Stewart, in the world she’s built for us.
ACES can be described in musical terms, of course. It’s hazy, downtempo; it’s pop music on muscle relaxers. It’s a bassy backing track and sparse beats that take a back seat to Stewart on a song like “If I Could Be Your Girl.”
But to really define ACES, we need to go outside the idiom. ACES is a muted light. A French new wave film projected at half speed. A night in with a few friends and heady cocktails.
ACES, too, is defined as Alex: the Canadian born New Yorker, is the voice and direction of the project, which takes its name from her initials. A film editor who often works alongside her filmmaker husband, Stewart borrows as much from the vocabulary and structure of that art as she does traditional songwriting.
Produced by Ian Miller, ACES built songs that convey her cinematic tone more evocatively than anything she’s done before. The songs on ACES’ Stranger EP can be seen as acts or vignettes, meditations on romantic thoughts and attachments. But love is never easy, and attachments just as often come alongside detachment. Perhaps the obstacles themselves are in fact what’s romantic about it.
As a writer and musician, Stewart may be seen as a master of stagecraft as much as songcraft.
It’s more than a technique; it’s a manifestation of the world she’s creating around her.
She builds ACES for herself, but invites the rest of us in.