Alice Phoebe Lou: Paper Castles
By: Colleen MacDonald
“We’re all human and none of us are special,” Alice Phoebe Lou tells the glowing,
intimate crowd at The Garrison in Toronto. The enigmatic singer-songwriter swings her guitar
back and forth as she speaks about a song she wrote for her stalker, and the dangers of putting
people on pedestals. The crowd responds with giggles and excited claps.
Originally from South Africa, Phoebe Lou now lives in Berlin. A former busker and fire-
dancer, the 25-year-old is currently making her way as an independent artist without a record
label. Her latest album, Paper Castles, was self-released on March 8 th and kicked off a tour
consisting of over 40 concerts across the US, Canada, and Europe.
While small in stature and wielding a guitar almost as big as herself, Phoebe Lou is
anything but meek. Her voice cuts through the precise rhythm and melody of her backing band
with growls and howls. Her lyrics to Skin Crawl, a single off her new album, fights against sexist
ideals of how a woman should look and behave. In Something Holy, she asks the listener to
“recognize the workings of [her] mind,” before being intimately touched.
Her meaningful words are beautifully woven between intricate drumbeats, basslines, and
jazzy melodies that sound as if they came from an ethereal planet.
Paper Castles is the work of an artist who is maturing into themselves. With captivating
lyrics and a clear voice, the artist serves up a dose of reality within a dreamy album. Phoebe
Lou’s natural charm shines through in every song, lifting up while simultaneously grounding the
listener and reminding us of our humanity.
The energy in the venue felt as though we were spending an evening in Phoebe Lou’s
living room. Her honesty and vulnerability made the show unique while she shared genuine
moments with her highly talented backing band. The night ended with Phoebe Lou apologizing
for not being able to talk after the show. “We need to go directly to the airport,” she laughs. “It’s
on to the next city.”