When Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh fell off her roof while clearing ice in early 2018, she smashed her L1 vertebrae and battered her spine, leaving her in a brace with limited mobility for months. Yet Poliça’s fourth album, When We Stay Alive, is not about one debilitating accident. It’s about the redemptive power of rewriting your story in order to heal, and reclaiming your identity as a result.
While recovering, Leaneagh’s doctor told her to focus not only on physical healing, but to meditate on the mental act of healing as well – working to erase the anger, regrets, and fear she felt about her fall. To do so, he suggested she rewrite the story she told herself about what happened on February 28th. Left alone with her thoughts and her back fully braced, Leaneagh would visualize herself slipping and falling not onto cement, but instead onto a cloud, landing safely before breaking into a sprint over snow melting to reveal tall blades of green grass. As she felt the positive effects of this mental exercise, she set about doing the same for other injuries and pains that she gripped onto from her past.
Prior to Leaneagh’s accident, she had been setting music aside as she raised her children and worked to make ends meet as a nursing assistant. Now in the still silence of healing, she found that a multitude of feelings were becoming very loud. Leaneagh realized her self-identity had become attached to her experiences of physical and mental trauma, and she began to consider what it would be like to live without the past as a burden. “I felt there were many things I could look at and say, ‘This happened to me but I’m okay now. It’s not happening anymore and I got the care I needed for it. Now it’s time to rewrite the story I tell about myself and to myself,’"
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This album blew up in 2020, and I was a little late to it, but I've been incredibly impressed by its staying power. A wonderful example of a record becoming a sensation that also holds up as a wonderful artistic statement. Bridgers just impresses more and more. Bryce Cannatelli