Jumping on stage during a show at New York’s Mercury Lounge earlier this year, her bleach blonde hair bouncing in rhythm, the Canadian singer-songwriter Elizabeth Lowell Boland—better known simply as Lowell—belted out high-energy synthpop songs. Catchy as they were, the lyrics seemed, at first, a little superficial—“I love you money,” for instance—but after deeper listening they turned out to be highly personal, touching on Boland’s down-and-out past of drugs, sexual abuse, and working as a stripper.
Born and raised in Calgary—with brief stops in Western Massachusetts, Ottawa, and Georgia—Lowell moved to Toronto at 18 to study music, but dropped out and began stripping at a local nightclub under the name Sara Victoria. Her debut EP, released several months ago, marked the emphatic end of that chapter of her life—she titled it I Killed Sara V. “Growing up, I wasn’t super social,” says Boland, 22. “I just wrote songs.” But it wasn’t until recently, at the end of a yearlong abusive relationship, that Lowell fully embraced her talent. “I had been putting myself down my entire life,” she admits. “This was that moment, like with an addiction, where you stop denying you’re totally fucked.”
This week, she ushers in the next phase with the release of her first full-length album, We Loved Her Dearly, (Arts & Crafts). After a long journey, “I feel like I’m floating on a cloud on top of the world,” she says.