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Parts of Speech

by Dessa

By the time that you told me it was already plain that you’d changed but your conscience was clean and as white as a line of cocaine My back to the wall of your bedroom apartment you’re talking in circles, got two cigarettes burning and I couldn’t hide how afraid I was to see you so strange Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no ill will for you it’d just been so long, I thought I’d always know you but you’re so far gone up where the air gets thin… You cut the kite strings I’ve seen my name in lights, I’ve seen my face in papers but my civilian life, I spent ten good years waiting waiting for you You charmed the snake you picked the card you bent the spoon A curved plane, the shapes change Euclid’s made to play to fool, but I don’t know what that stuff does to you and I don’t know if it’s real, but I spent a decade in love with you and I can’t tell if you’re here, cause CHORUS The man I knew I don’t think that he can hear me now So dizzy with the altitude It’s just too far Who am I to tell you to come down? Lucky that my palate still prefers a legal poison Who am I to tell you to come down? Sit back and raise a glass, a glass to easy choices Who am I, yeah who am I, yeah who am I to tell you to come down? CHORUS Last night you came to kiss me in a dream and when I woke what kind of foolishness is this breathed out a lungful of your smoke I’ve seen you at your brightest what a mind, let it burn who am I to pull you down to earth? Yeah, who am I to tell you to come down?
Last night, old friend, big wedding and I knew you’d be there too Look at us all grown up collared shirts and high-heeled shoes You cross the room just the decent thing to do make sure we’d all been introduced you brought your new friend I brought mine shake hands Pay courtesy its due But it takes its toll and it takes it whole We’ve lived too long, too close, so call off your ghost You’re asking can’t we just be friends but this bell in my chest still rings and it’s better to just pretend that I can’t see you waving can’t hear you call my name and I know how much you hate it But babe, I gotta walk away You once said if we were careful that we could do this all our lives Ah, but one of us got clumsy and both of us got wise and now we’re not so young seems our wishing well’s gone dry CHORUS We’ve been living too long, too close, and I’m ready to let you go I’m ready so call off your ghost I think she lives around here I see her almost daily all I can do to stop myself from saying something crazy I don’t think badly of her I hope she makes you happy it’s just a lot to ask to watch your future walking past me I know that jealousy’s a perfect waste of time but left to my devices, I’ve spent far too long wasting mine CHORUS
Warsaw 03:11 video
A wick with no candle a wheel with no axle I ride with no saddle No lift, then I’m dragging the kite A blade with no handle a brick for your window I’m fine but I’m single a dime and I’m the same on both sides You’re a stone-cold killer you say but you’re looking like a part-time criminal waive the charade man, you lay it on thick It’s a dive bar, save the game you drink and you sit Easy to please but hard to impress I’m in a mood, new shoes, and a bulletproof dress Sugar on the rim and a shot of mescal man, it’s murder in the morning but it’s good for morale Can you mortar more looks like you’re bricking with both hands Get the spirit level or the skeleton won’t stand Fuck the plan, man I’m tryna call an audible probable lost cause but I got a thing for long shots Yes, yes, naysayers got the wrong job Best bet when you think they got the wrong odds And I’ve done some living in a glass house high note blew the motherfucking walls off And I sleep with both eyes open standing up alone and holding off the rust And I’m still living by my maiden name the name I came with the name I made and I’m bare-faced at your masquerade filled a flask up before I came Because night falls we all wanna hear that fight song car running like a nylon brights on time’s right but the clock’s wrong never set it, never settle in a time zone Take what I need with me pray for rain but brace for whiskey Something in the tank, money in the bank callin it a win we give a little thanks, give a little back Busy with the grand plan take one last look left the bandwagon for a banned book To break out you gotta give up the chase To make love you gotta take off the brace And we all leave it feeling half done best you can do is just put a hand up hope grace and good works in the end add up Find out when the pendulum hangs plumb
Skeleton Key 03:34
I haven’t met a locked door yet that I couldn’t beat On a chain around my neck I keep my skeleton key CHORUS Don’t waste your worry on me I always find what I need Come and go as I please I’ve got my skeleton key By now it’s just a simple trick, not much to see You hear the tumblers catch and click, then turn the key But I’ve found work and welcome everywhere I’ve been cause everyone’s got someplace they wanna be let in CHORUS Along the way the old men call me by mother’s name she looked just the same they say The children wave or hide behind their mothers’ skirts afraid strangers here still seem strange They hear the accent know I’m from nowhere near but I speak the language and I know the customs here I come from over the horizon pass through every dozen years Go home, tell of my arrival The skeleton key’s here CHORUS I’ve got my my skeleton my skeleton key I’ve got my, got my, got my My skeleton My skeleton key, yeah CHORUS Don’t you go waste all your worry on me cause I’ll make my way with my skeleton key
Dear Marie 03:59
Dear Marie, you were right about me Dear Marie, you were right, you were right I should have been kinder I surely knew better not much of a writer but I’m sending a letter I hope that it finds you in love and at peace don’t need much of your time for this apology Oh, Dear Marie, you were right about me Dear Marie, you were right, you were right CHORUS You said that I could leave you lonely in a crowded room by smiling bright for everyone but you And I’m embarrassed to confess it, but it all rings true you said that charm of mine was easy to abuse And if I’m so smart how can I learn so slow you had the hard part I was the last to know I let the flash blind me the years pass by standing in your light for most of the time And I did it I kissed him I knew it would hurt you but it put down my loneliness and that felt like virtue enough I know it’s much too late No need to reply I put us all at stake Marie, you were right CHORUS I’ve had one too many it takes quite a few Was counting my losses wasn’t sure if I should count you And I know it’s much too late no need to reply I put us all at stake Marie, you were Marie, you were right
We sit in the car outside your house and I can feel the heat coming down I go to put my arms around you give me a look like I'm way out of bounds yeah, let out one of your bored sighs and lately when I look into your eyes I'm going down, down, down going down, down, down, down We get dressed up and we go out, baby, for the night We come home early burning burning in some fire fight I'm sick and tired of you setting me up, girl setting me up just to knock, knock, knock me down, down, down going down, down, down, down Pull you close but when we kiss when we kiss I can feel the doubt I remember back when we started my kisses used to turn you inside out I used to drive you to work in the mornings Friday night I'd drive you all around You used to love to drive me wild, but lately girl you get your kicks from just driving me down Down down, down, down going down, down, down, down
Swimming in a snifter pretty as a picture don’t get it twisted man, her bite is a bitch You can name, you can keep her but take care when you feed her You never can take the fight out the fish Chompin at the drill bit never one to still sit you can test my metal with a magnet and some tin snips Ink test, all I see is canines and some wings tips Pilot pen in pocket, I’m riding instinct and inkjets Around here we don’t like talk of big dreams to stand out is a pride, a conceit To aim high is to make waves, to split seams but that’s not what it seems like to me, cause I wanna try I wanna risk I don’t wanna walk, rather swing and miss I’m not above apologies but I don’t ask permission got a lot of imperfections but I don’t count my ambition in em CHORUS Zeno’s arrow never hits the mark It’s always hanging there over its shadow safe from battle waste of arch- er’s time and trouble waste of effort waste of parts If you don’t aim for the center it's a waste of the art I didn’t come looking for love I didn’t come to pick a fight I didn’t come to wave or take pictures pander to some benefactor, ring on every broken finger Won’t extend my wings to be clipped I know the culture here is to stay humble but shit if we all go round bowed heads, button-lipped if none of us go for the bell, then who is? My mother says I’ve loved too many men but I took and left something in every single bed The rook can look left, right—just turns his head but the knight might rise up, investigate the grid Gender, genre guess I’m on one bent both Just the constructs of the old word gone broke Women, children let me tell you I’ve been both and it’s a myth— we all swim for the life boats I didn’t come looking for love I didn’t come to pick a fight I come here every night to work and you can grab an axe, man, or you can step aside CHORUS Self-taught, self-made, bet, self-styled self saw, self came, self took island of converts to conquer is old school we march em in converse just armed with their own tools While my knees still flex while my joints hold steady mind sharp, spine straight, Chucks laced ready I travel by kite travel light, at touch down I swallow the dice I make my own luck now Zeno’s arrow never hits the mark It’s always hanging there over its own shadow in the dark its own shadow in the dark
The Lamb 03:43
You came up from anesthesia like a diver out of air surprised to be alive startled I was there It’s been a long time and I’ve got no axe to grind with you but goddamn it, man, this hatchet won’t stay buried without some sign from you sign from you I don’t quite come in peace but times like these ask us to set aside old grudges Duty calls, I heed but I don’t love it The night nurse leaves just you and me and you give a look to freeze gasoline I don’t believe that you’re reformed or you’re redeemed CHORUS If they ask me, I’ll deny it but I remember what you did While it’s true you were a young man then I was just a kid One of us was lying both of us half damned one of us the lion and one the lamb You’ve got a way with words You got away with murder But now our roles reverse and your table’s turning now Too weak to lift a spoon, I fed you shaved you when your hands were shaking dosed you like they told me never more, lord, the demands you’re making Help the monster on two feet walk him down the hall, repeat and when he’s strong enough to stand alone you’ll notice what big teeth But blood is blood and what’s done is done yeah, blood is blood and its burden is a beast You lie expressionless face set like the Old Testament silence always your best defense I bet you guess I came to settle debts They tell me you’ll get better I don’t know what to say cause they could sew your hands together but they can’t make you pray CHORUS But now you’re careful, now you’re good but do I scare you, like I should? Now you’re careful, now you’re good but I still scare you, and I should You’ve got a way with words You got away with murder But now our roles reverse and your table’s turning now
Beekeeper 03:55
Here comes the beekeeper with her pitcher full of smoke She’ll put us all to sleep I hope it’s dreamless and it’s deep Sweet Prometheus, come home they took away our fire and all that scarcity promotes is desperate men and tyrants CHORUS What fine design what hands, what minds The envy of Eden our tools and our reason it’s clear in the animals’ eyes We stand upright build fires at night made on the sixth day to rest on the seventh and now we just try to survive The surgeon and farmer meet and each greets the other with a bow They’re kindred instruments, you know the scalpel and the plough And in the shadow of the mountain we work when work abounds and we wear out all our prayers when the work runs out CHORUS
Annabelle 04:00
Annabelle, pick up the phone I’m calling from the kitchen we just never seem to listen when we’re sharing the same room I’m not sure anymore what might get your attention every day you see me less than you did just the day before Out there in the garden motionless for hours yeah, it’s just like there’s a statue dressed in Annabelle’s old clothes And part of me’s afraid to wake you from the dreams you’re having scared the scattered pieces won’t come back together whole CHORUS Annabelle, come back to me I’m calling you from home Annabelle, come back to me I’m living here alone Another quiet evening That book that you’ve been reading’s open but I don’t believe I’ve seen you turn a single page Even here right beside you I barely recognize you you’re like a photograph I’m watching fade away I want to shake you I’d prefer that you were angry with me you’re like a bird now, looking lost without a cage I don’t know what to call it I’m not sure who could solve this problem of a disappearing girl, oh Anna stay CHORUS You’re in the bathroom with a flashlight you’re trying to weigh your shadow yeah, you say it’s gotten heavy, hard to drag across the floor Same scene we had last night and I still know what happens to you I just stand here useless, sometimes listen through the door The ringing in your ears has gotten worse it’s hard to take you say it sounds like heavy traffic as we’re climbing into bed And I believe I almost hear it I know better than to touch you lately praying I don’t wake up to the car crash in your head CHORUS Annabelle, come back to me I’m trying to get through Annabelle, come back to me Or take me there with you
It's Only Me 03:48
Hello, it’s only me, I know it’s late Hoped to catch you still awake And maybe I was wrong to call guess tonight broke my resolve I’ve been having that dream again It seems I always will I don’t know what the thing means except it sends me to the telephone and still I know that love is never free it bows your head and bends your knees But there’s no sword without an edge and I sleep uneasily when you’re not in my bed, cause I didn’t come to play it safe I came to win or lose with you I only live alone awake cause every night yeah you pass through yeah, you pass through Hello, it’s only me Yeah, love it’s only me I didn’t come to play it safe I came to win or lose with you And I win or lose with you I only live alone awake cause every night, yeah, you pass through yeah, you pass through I didn’t come to play it safe I came to win or lose with you And I win and lose with you
Boys sound the bells the sun rose from the west today I doubt we’ll see it set Oh and boys bear it well put all your paper maps away Mercator here can’t help CHORUS Go lift your sails up for one last swell Go lift yourselves up to sound the bells Sound the bells Looks like our writing on the wall is lorem ipsum after all A higher tide will wash it all wash it all away The lighthouse keeper’s last relay: hand shadows and a final wave Now’s the time to rouse yourself spend the strength you’ve saved CHORUS


The long awaited second official full-length from Dessa. A dozen new songs (and one bonus track!) comprising her best work to date.


released June 25, 2013

Makers & Players
Dessa (pen, piano, voice)
Dustin Kiel (guitar, piano, sounds, and programming of all sorts)
Sean McPherson (bass)
Joey Van Phillips (drums, percussion, vibraphone)
Paper Tiger (production tracks 2, 3 and 8)
Lazerbeak (production tracks 4 and 7)
Joe Mabbott (magic—black & white)
Rebecca Arons (cello)
Nick Ogawa (cello)
Jessy Greene (violin)
Scott Agster (trombone)
Gabriel Douglas (voice)
Aby Wolf (voice)
Benjamin Burwell (voice)
Mayda (guitar, synth and drum programming, engineered by DJ Chris Neviator)
Bruce Springsteen (original writer of "I'm Goin Down")
Emily Dantuma of Daymoths (sampled cello)
Jake Wallenius of Taj Raj (sampled drums)
Brady Moen (additional engineering and editing)

Executive produced by Lazerbeak, Dessa and Dustin Kiel
Recorded at The Hideaway, The Birdcage, McNally Smith College of Music and Fleur de Tete
Mixed and engineered by Joe Mabbott at The Hideaway, Minneapolis, MN
Additional engineering by Brady Moen at The Hideaway
Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Magneto Mastering, Minneapolis, MN
Art Direction by Kai Benson and Dessa
Photography by Bill Phelps
Design by Kai Benson


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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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