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by Dessa

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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.
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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 :)
Parhelion Aim
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Parhelion Aim About half of the songs didn't do anything for me, but the other half have become my favorite Dessa tracks to date. "I Hope I'm Wrong" brought me to tears with how relatable and powerful it is. If I had one complaint about the album, it's that I want more Shrimp.
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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.


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


all rights reserved



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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Track Name: Ride
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.
Track Name: 5 out of 6
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.

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.


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.

Track Name: Fire Drills
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.

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.


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.
Track Name: Velodrome
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.

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.


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
Track Name: Good Grief
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.


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.


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.
Track Name: Boy Crazy
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?
Track Name: Jumprope
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.
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.

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

Track Name: Shrimp
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!
Track Name: Half of You
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.

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.


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?

Track Name: Say When
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.
Track Name: I Hope I'm Wrong
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.

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