one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden

12 November 2021 / by Mackenzie Walsh
one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden (by Ada Lea)
Album reviews
Ada Lea one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden
Released: September 24, 2021
Label: Next Door Records
Folk / Indie Pop
Harry Styles / Mitski / WILLOW
my love 4 u is real, partner, writer in ny

Listening to One hand on the steering wheel, the other sewing a garden by Ada Lea is the perfect transition from summer to fall; exploring the themes of love, loneliness, nostalgia and much more. The transition from summer to fall is one that can prove difficult for some people, and the past two years even more so. This album, while representing the ups and downs of life, is rather smooth. Each song eases the listener in, and serves as the perfect way to calm the mind, and reflect.

The first song as well as the single of the album, ‘damn‘, is reminiscent of what its like to live in the glory days; a specific line, “the years getting darker” portrays the process of growing up, and no longer seeing life through rose coloured glasses. Oranges‘ encapsulates the same sense of change and reminiscence using the imagery of wild fruit, red wine and cigarettes to give a sense of the narrator’s life at the time. 

While listening to this album, there is a plain distinction between songs with strong correlations of production and style between them. Two songs that directly contrast are ‘saltspring‘ and violence. ‘Saltspring’ offers two lovers drawn to each other, but never seeming to cross paths. It is a story of longing and long distance, whereas ‘violence‘ is a story about abuse and feeling trapped. Although both songs are similarly produced, one has light undertones and the other is clearly sorrowful, which really reflects the versatility of Lea’s album. 

Another aspect of Lea’s work that stands out is her different perspective on common human experiences. Her song ‘my love 4 u is real‘ is about unrequited love, and the passion that is put into it. Most songs with this subject matter are sad (specifically because it is unrequited), however, Lea’s interpretation really encapsulates the joys of it, of loving someone with your whole heart despite them not returning your feelings, with the words “come to me as you did then, my innocuous and redeemable friend […] come as a bride.”

Of all the themes the album could possibly be interpreted under, nostalgia as well as the struggles of growing up are two obvious contenders. The song ‘backyard‘ portrays the sense of not wanting to shift to adulthood, “even when you finally could leave and explore other places near or far”, and how the narrator and their friend end up choosing “to stay in the place [they] grew up.” However, the song ‘writer in ny‘ is about ambition, and dreaming big, believing that “nothing’s gonna bring [the narrator] down” and that one day they will be a writer in New York, spending their “[winters] in LA.” It is evident through these contrasting scenes, that there is struggle between rejecting change, and searching for it all the same.

Overall, this album is for those going through tough times, feeling lost, and needing a chill pick-me-up. Even for someone who doesn’t like being introduced to change, One hand on the steering wheel, the other sewing a garden has the power to change many perspectives on life and its obstacles.