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Chime

by Dessa

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fluorocarbon
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fluorocarbon Minnesota excellence! "5 out of 6" makes me feel there's nothing I can't do. Favorite track: 5 out of 6.
Ryan Huffman
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Ryan Huffman I love Doomtree’s collaborative stuff a lot but for some reason the artist’s solo work that always stuck out to me the most has been Dessa’s. As of late some of her tracks have taken a turn into more “pop” tunes than the earlier releases and though that’s not always my “thing”, when Dessa does it, it’s all great. Another amazing, personal, poignant album from one of Doomtree’s finest.
redeyesblueeyes
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redeyesblueeyes Dessa has a ridiculous amount of artistic integrity. Her honesty and lack of complacence in this world is so refreshing. Plus skill, sense of humour, and, of course, dope beats. So much love to her and Doomtree :)
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1.
Ride 03:25
Baby, put that out I don’t let nobody smoke in here you sounded woke on the telephone but faded you don’t say much I think I wanna go somewhere. I don’t like the quiet, that’s why you got invited— Ah fuck it, my ride’s coming. Streetlights on wet pavement, city shining twice lemme out kitty corner from The Paradise. They used to know me here haven’t used that name in years— been a woman too long for that song now I been lost and I found out high supply just drives your cost down they don’t want you involved, just want you around. Walking in I gotta step over a pretty thing leaning her head on her own shoulder I don’t ask if she’s alright cuz I think she’d lie tonight that her ride’s coming. Bad news on the television two-for-ones on everything don’t want no one talking to me I just watch the flat screen closed captions pass: looks like gender’s over race came back faith is a hammer with a book for a handle and people in power can edit the past can put your hands behind your back to read you someone else’s rights first the sirens then the lights that looks like your ride— your ride’s coming.
2.
Double jointed triple threat I’m not some method actress tryna see my my descent you’re gonna have to play the tape backwards save that breath for choir practice got no time for my detractors standing on my staircase all you are’s a fire hazard. I put my time in now I’m vetted, uncontested see how an honest answer shuts down motherfuckers asking trick questions? I’m out here arms wide hiding nothing I’ve done it all in broad daylight and I left the cameras running. Chorus I’m the phoenix and the ash red eyes shining in the camera flash My secret is I don’t keep none see something, go ahead and say something I ain’t afraid of it I don’t drown won’t stay down heat finds a way to rise somehow Scan the crowd as I'm coming out and I don’t see too many rivals now. I don’t need an agenda I just tell the truth let it off the leash and don’t touch it it knows what to do and I’m running a tight ship every deckhand here has a five-year plan and an ice pick they can write code, they can drive stick I got an octave on you and a high kick I don’t blink, I don’t block, I’m a bleeder all I do is hit. I don’t win em all, but I’d say I take five out of six clock’s running better glove up—if you insist okay, let’s see who’s really counting coup and who’s been counterfeit. Chorus Cut my own gills with a pocketknife turning my fingers in the sockets, my daily—daily dose of- - -daily dose of lightning just buzzed enough to get me up climbing up the kite string. My back is aching, my belt’s too tight I brought a chisel tip to this pencil fight no luck, just fortified dice I’m going morning and night and I’m really rising the fire on the horizon. Chorus
3.
I’ve been Wendy living with the Lost Boys youth spent as a deckhand on the convoy moved every night to prove we were something got confused if it was from or to that we were running. I've seen Gibraltar I’ve seen the Taj Mahal Soweto, Hagia Sophia Chefchaouen paints their walls blue I’ve played to full rooms I’ve played the fool too burning through the bottoms of a pair of new boots Cut my hair tape my tits down A woman on her own must be from out of town funny, you don’t know the concessions that you’re making until you catalog em and by then they’re many and you’re battle-hardened. Heat makes liquid of the asphalt keepsakes and parking tickets on the dashboard I'm here to file my report as the vixen of the wolf pack; tell Patient Zero, he can have his rib back. Chorus You can count my ribs Wanna know what class I’m in— Count my, You can count my ribs. You can’t be too broke to break as a woman Always something left to take so you shouldn't try to stay too late or talk to strangers look too long, go too far out of range cause angels can’t watch everybody all the time stay close, hems low, safe inside; that formula works if you can live it but it works by putting half the world off limits. Chorus We don’t say, Go out and be brave nah, we say Be careful, stay safe in any given instance, that don't hurt but it sinks in like stilettos in soft earth, like the big win is a day without an incident I beg to differ with it I think a woman’s worth I think that she deserves a better line of work than motherfucking vigilance. Don’t give me vigilance by definition you can’t make a difference if the big ambition is simply standing sentry to your innocence that’s not a way to live that can’t be what a woman is that gives her nothing to aspire to. What that is— what that is is just a life of running fire drills. We’re runnin fire drills.
4.
Velodrome 03:08
I don’t believe my will’s quite free I’m half machine at least half steam Aquinas, call on me— How many angels on the head of your pin? Anybody in stilettos can answer that old thing: it’s one for the right foot, one for the left half an angel per pin at best. Add wings, add heart, add harp, all set. Chorus We lean to turn in the velodrome all lines are curved in the velodrome we pitch and roll, wheels flesh and bone total control and it’s it’s ours alone. It goes gospel, gossip, slander harvest, hunger, rain dance hand-to-god, I didn’t think it was contagious Eve leaving Eden in a makeshift dress with a bell to tell us when we’re hungry there’s a bell to tell us when we’re tired a bell that tells us to rise and fight a bell to rise and die. It’s just all bells sometimes I ring myself to see if I might chime. Chorus We spend our days and nights deciding where to go and how to ride there and in the end again we all vote yes, we all turn left. We lean to turn in the velodrome
5.
Chorus They say there’s good grief but how can you tell it from the bad? Maybe it’s only in the fact good grief’s the one that’s in your past. I got snow in my pockets went down again head first laced drill bits to my pointe shoes pirouette through the hardwood to paydirt. Night falls, day breaks; time has a funny kind of violence and I’m tryna keep in mind it can’t leave you the way it finds you. Good grief: I’ve heard people say it what a phrase, what a state to be in but I don’t know where they go to get get that feeling. My knees stay clean not much for praying I do my own stunts and my own saving but there’s something amiss something I been missing maybe, maybe. Chorus This time my best wasn’t good enough well, fuck, usually it is and the air got a little rough took off the fuselage, the engine, and both wings but I’m willing to work for this just show me where to dig and I’m ready to hurt for this I know exactly what this is: Good grief I want that good grief the one that heals me that leaves me clarified by fire when I’m burned clean tempered by light and heat ah, by the dead of morning I’ll be better for it and then fortified I’ll rise. Bust the hydrant, let it spray champagne wings are broken but I feel no pain it’s real today, I know this feeling, let it rain. Chorus Secrets don’t like to be kept all mine jumped over the fence I guess I should be upset, but I’m in my nightgown on the lawn thinking, better that they’re gone I’ve been afraid of this so long it’s a relief when it goes wrong. Cause I’m here now, and asking melt me down, recast me burn me clean like glass from sandy ground.
6.
Boy Crazy 03:10
You’ve got wheels beneath the knee just my type, all built for speed I still fall so easily. I’m just boy boy crazy. I got foolish dreaming on a future with you like some amateur in plastic pearls, a younger girl’s perfume. If I’m strong enough to handle this you’re wrong to leave so soon. I’m just boy boy crazy. Don’t make me say it I know what it was can’t you just let me call it a— sooner or later wouldn’t be enough one of us was gonna fall into— Don’t make me say it I know what it was can’t you just let me call it can’t you just let me call it a crush? I’m just boy boy crazy. Thought you were leaning in thought it might mean something off of my feet again clean sweep doesn’t take much, now does it? Thought we would meet again caught in the feeling of it head over heels but then it wasn’t enough, now was it?
7.
Jumprope 03:01
Girls on the block turn rope calling out the same games that I played: it goes turn around, then jump touch the ground, then jump wake up to find work and look for love but when that rope comes round you jump That rope comes round you jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. You sterilize the needle with a lighter and a prayer you sew your empty pockets closed cut off all your hair you train up on the mountaintop to weaponize the blood you bring your body back to sea level to see what body does. And it runs. And it runs. And it runs. Chorus It was just jumprope then you try not to get hit you try to stay in; don't let em talk that down it's still jumprope now. You hope you get the fast horse some of what you ask for never let a broken heart k-keep you from the dance floor have a little fun. Have a little fun. Girls on the block turn rope calling out the same games turn around touch the ground wake up to find work and look for love But when that rope comes round— rope comes round you jump Jump. Jump. Jump. Chorus
8.
Shrimp 00:45
I’m high strung, universal donor that’s Type A, Type O To wake up, calm down, or shape up: Chai tea Tai chi Tae bo no easy money I’m tryna get rich slow standing on the acorn I planted I trust that oak trees grow. ENFP Myers Briggs 6’2” in my highest kicks hero to the neighbor's kid dolled up I’m the baddest person still like backpacks over purses hate that Qs are 2s in cursive talk real fast when I get nervous rap real fast, but that’s on purpose. I’ve single-handed some duets I’ve been as bad as good girls get but I don’t regret too much just yet I mostly gave more than I got tried not to watch the ticking clock like, always a bridesmaid never an ASTRONAUT!
9.
They say that your heart is the size of your fist I can tell you first hand I know how that glove fits it takes your whole life just to teach it two tricks: it beats and it attacks. And in between is all of love and loss, attraction you live your life between contractions and you and I we do just that. Chorus What if I could cure me of you? Am I so sure which pill I’d choose? Maybe I’m happier with half of you than I’d be with clean but empty rooms. In the mess it’s made of us there's still so much to lose. The key I swallowed the lock you picked all these spinning bottles and I’m still the mark you missed we should be a settled argument. But I can’t do that I can’t remove the screws of my own youth can’t just pull out all the fuses and start new can’t erase and can’t undo my past with you. And I know it’s it’s not the sort of thing you’re supposed to show if you can you’re supposed to try to let it go, you just shoulder what you can and soldier through. Chorus I get this feeling when I’m far away from home that I don’t know the girl I’d be if we’d left well enough alone But well is well enough? What is well enough alone? Chorus
10.
Say When 03:42
Here in my paper crown with a glass of flat champagne I’d spar another round but I’m the only one who’s still awake. Oh, say when, say when. And I’m headed towards the shallows. Looks like I won again another medal on the shelf I guess my record stands but I can’t quit until I play myself. Oh, say when, say when. I’m swinging on my shadow. Oh say when, say when Tell me Oh say when, say when. I can’t say what would be enough I’m not so sure this is the good fight anymore. To unlace is tough with both hands in gloves the good fight, the good fight anymore. I don’t let go I don’t give in I don’t bow I don’t bend I won’t say no I won’t say when I fold for no one And I, I always win Oh say when, say when.
11.
I hope I’m wrong I hope you’re up there after all I keep your diamond ring on my necklace I don’t keep much close to my chest. Poured a little bourbon out for you got scolded on the porch for wasting booze said it was something kids my age do Dan got up, poured some too. Choked up riding in the backseat Dad at the wheel staying tough, if you ask me he’s always at his best when the blade’s right up against his neck when the shit goes wrong, man comes correct. It gets no better than the way you went money in the bank, sons around your bed I know I should feel lucky, but I’m just feeling spent. Last thing you said was you’d be watching out for me and we both know that I don’t believe that to be true. String of beads to me rosary to you. We were young in different circumstances had the same set of questions, all different answers and if we could’ve traded places maybe we’d exchange whole lives maybe you’d be here in lights and tears and I’d have been the bride raising kids with my hair swept up and my goals pushed to the side making do singing lullabies. I hope I’m wrong I hope you’re up there after all I keep your diamond ring on my necklace I don’t keep much close to my chest. Poured a little bourbon out for you got scolded on the porch for wasting booze said it was something kids my age do Dan got up, poured some too. I hope I’m wrong.

about

A few years ago, a friend told me, “The hardest thing to be is yourself." It seemed like such an unusual thing to say, but also rang at least partly true. By the time you’re an adult, it can be difficult even to identify which parts of yourself have been shaped by social pressures; which parts you might habitually exaggerate or play down; and which parts have changed since you last took a serious look behind the curtain. I’m a pretty candid songwriter—most of my lyrics are lived, personal stories—but I’ve also been a musician who went to great lengths to be taken seriously. When I first joined Doomtree, I didn’t want to sing too much, because I worried about being dismissed as the girl who only sang choruses. I’m goofy off stage, but on record I was writerly, deliberate. I wanted to seem smart, wanted to seem skillful. And thinking about how you’d like to be perceived is different than thinking about how to best express who or what you really are.

Writing the lyrics for Chime involved heading into territory I don’t usually go as a songwriter: there’s some humor, a rap song about my experiences traveling alone as a woman, one about my grandmother’s death, and one unapologetic pop song—because I love pop too, dammit. The album includes beats by some of my favorite Doomtree producers (Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter), but also involved a new collaborator, Andy Thompson. He added new sounds and melodies to the record and pushed me to use my voice differently for stronger, more expressive vocal takes. Two of the beats on the album were submitted by people I’ve never met, who responded to my call for mid-tempo production on Facebook, Anagram Norton and Chance Lewis. Chime is also the first album on which I produced a couple of tracks myself—a fact of which I am senselessly, insufferably proud. (In my eagerness to be included in producer shoptalk, Beak, mostly affectionately, referred to me as New Beatmaker during our late-night sessions in Andy’s basement.)

There are deliberate, writerly moments on this record, because I’m a writer and a neurotic. But nobody is just one thing. I’m also a daughter and a science nerd and a single woman in her thirties and an American freaked out by the stories on the news. And, in this particular moment, I am a person feeling excited, proud, and nervous to be a little more fully herself.

credits

released February 23, 2018

Executive Producers: Lazerbeak and Andy Thompson
Recorded at Instrument Landing and The Birdcage
Engineered by Andy Thompson
Mixed by Joe Mabbott at The Hideaway Studio
“Good Grief” mixed by Lance Conrad at Humans Win!
Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering
Photography by Bill Phelps
Design and layout by Andy Lund

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Dessa Minneapolis

Combining wit, tenderness, and poetic sensibility to rare effect, Dessa spins delicate and charged stories and animates them with her expressive alto voice, arresting for its honest, clear simplicity. Transcending the restrictions of genre to reveal an astonishing multi-platform voice. Member of the Doomtree collective. Essayist. Rapper. Amaretto enthusiast. ... more

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