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Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall

by Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra

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Kamani
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Kamani Sound the Bells is an incredible album. Dessa sings incredibly well and her lyrics are exceptional and emotional. The Minnesota Orchestra plays excellently, and the sound between the two fits together perfectly. All in all an incredible album, and definitely worth a listen.
Thank you for putting out this incredible album. Favorite track: Velodrome (Live).
Neunauge
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Neunauge This is Dessa at her best. Interpreting the songs through the orchestra brings out just how complex they are and how nicely the dramatic arks of the individual songs are planned out. The album made me fall in love with Dessa's music all over again. Favorite track: Velodrome (Live).
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1.
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
2.
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 felt 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 X2 Chorus
3.
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?
4.
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.
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
6.
Oh someone taught Your walls to talk But if they ask me I ain't heard a thing Back to the wall, bat to the ball, back to the drawing board Back to the wall, bat to the ball, back to the drawing board Back to the wall, bat to the ball, back to the drawing board Again There was a snow storm in Jackson When you and I met At a club called Saint Sebastian's But the sign said something different I remember thinkin' That I didn't have a shot at Mississippi - Television told us Which roads they were closing... There goes a rap show Everybody knew you As the wife of a famous man Everybody who knew said There goes Dixon's girl again Even the walls all lean closer When she plays the piano real slow I haven't met too many women in this business that I really like (echo) But you can hold a little liquor You could hold a conversation You could hold your own mic, and Even that night I learned the truth about your man; You gotta be big to treat pretty girls bad And it's not much, but my money's on you It's not much, but my money's on you It's not much but my money It's not much but my money Not much, but my money My money's on Youuuuuuuuuuuu Well I heard from the rest of the world you're in trouble Bad news moves like fire that you fight on the phone And I'm too far away, my well-wishing can't touch you But I think of you still more than you might suppose Everybody wanna see you with your hair down Wanna hear you hit the high note Wanna know if they can get you for a little less, Girl I don’t I know how the stones can fly Had some hard goodbyes Call me up, day or night Free drinks and bad advice And it's not much, but my money's on you It's not much, but my money, my money's on you It's on you It's on you ooh-ooh ooh-ooh Yeah my money's on you It's on you It's on you-ou-ou ooh-ooh-ooh Yeah my money's on youuuuuuuuuuu
7.
Love Drugs Sex Pain Those are just grade school games, nothing major nothing ages Nothing changes but the names and dates. Fear Pride Faith Shame Those are just grade school games, nothing major nothing ages nothing stranger than the neighbor’s place. HOOK You can’t make me play by all new rules Some kids barely practice but I do VERSE 2 Love Drugs Sex Pain Those are just grade school games, nothing major no new dangers the operations Of arcades don’t change. Blush Pull Push Blame Those are just grade school games, nothing major Old behaviors trade some favors then give chase, take aim. HOOK You can’t make me play by all new rules Some kids barely practice but I do I’m old enough to know how this goes and how it all plays out The end is always when the ring is empty and we all fall down. Love Drugs Sex Pain Those are just grade school games, nothing major nothing ages nothing changes but the names and dates
8.
Last night, old friend, big wedding And I knew you'd be there too Look at us, all grown up Collared shirts and high heel shoes You crossed the room, just the decent thing to do Make sure we've 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 its hold [Hook] We've lived too long too close So call off your ghost Now 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 waiting Can't hear you call my name and I know how much you hate it But babe I've got to walk away You once said if we were careful That we could do this all our lives Although 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 [Hook] 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 x2 [Hook] We've been living too long too close And I'm ready to let you go I'm ready, so call off your ghost x2
9.
Now the bough breaks The books I read Said you were a fragile kid Just as I imagined it Your story goes: Another nosebleed Roses on the pillowcase The fever breaks And you're back on earth again You rehearse In the living room The nursemaid comes mid-afternoon To say "you've practiced long enough today" She takes your bow It's suppertime But oh, your only appetite Was fixed on the chaconne you'd hoped to play So soon you're off To the academy The honours And the accolades First a darling Then a marvel When we met I was still a young girl But you had changed, already famous Your name was a contagion You were vain and hard to take All the same, I was brazen How the tides rise I don't suppose you'd tell the truth So I won't ask you anymore All the things that we do To pass the time between the wars I don't regret a single day Heard your chaconne on every stage But your love sleeps in a velvet case So what'd you bring me for? What'd you bring me for? I hear you keep your pretty wife alive On only brie They say a dozen years ago She could have passed for me She doesn't trust you with the baby Maybe better that way Safe in your study Going grey You're at your best When you're alone Above the fray With your chaconne Now the bells toll
10.
Ride (Live) 03:43
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 ‘cause 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
11.
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 this scarcity promotes Is desperate men and tyrants [Hook] 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 plow In the shadow of the mountain We work when work abounds And we wear out all our prayers When the work runs out [Hook] 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
12.
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 Sofia 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.
13.
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 Chomping 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 wing 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 And 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 world 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 looking for a fight I come here every night to work And you can grab an axe, man Or you can step aside 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 Self taught, self made, bet, self styled Self saw, self came, self took island of converts To conquer is old school We marching in Converse Just armed with our 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 touchdown I swallowed 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
14.
Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen Walk with a switch, fire in her fist Biting at the bit Swing at every pitch Coach put me in like Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen It's all in the wrist, fire from the hip Talk a little shit, roll thick Whole clique Let's begin It's been assumed I'm soft or irrelevant Cause I refuse to down play my intelligence But in a room of thugs and rap veterans Why am I the only one Who's acting like a gentleman Good form bad taste Pity what a waste All that style, not a thing to say Looks to me like A little of your true school Is at the shallow end of the typing pool All cloak, no dagger Just smoke and swagger I hope that your battery's charged Cause I found this here ladder Now your ceilings don't matter Check me out Now I got glass floors Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen Walk with a switch, fire in her fist Biting at the bit Swing at every pitch Coach put me in like Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen It's all in the wrist, fire from the hip Talk a little shit, roll thick Whole clique Let's begin They love me, they love me not Pulling pedals off my bike You gotta strike while the irony's still hot No telling what the kids might like And I love this job, but ah, good god Sometimes I hate this business It's all love backstage but then the boys get brave Gotta say, I hope your mother doesn't listen Excuse me, where you going Doomtree, Minnesota Population's growing all the time And if you feel this You know what the deal is Grab a chisel tip and add one to the number on the sign Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen Walk with a switch, fire in her fist Biting at the bit Swing at every pitch Coach put me in like Forget the bull in the china shop There's a china doll in the bullpen It's all in the wrist, fire from the hip Talk a little shit, roll thick Whole clique Let's begin
15.
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 Times right but the clocks 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
16.
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 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 Go lift your sails up For one last swell Go lift yourselves up To sound the bells Sound the bells
17.
18.
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 mother's 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 [Bridge] 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

credits

released November 8, 2019

Recorded at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN on March 26 and 28, 2019
Recording Engineer and Concert Sound: Jay Perlman
Tracking Engineers: Tom Garneau and Nicholas Pettigrew
Projection and Lighting Design by Paul “Arlo” Guthrie

Mixed by Andy Thompson at Instrument Landing
Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering
Management by Becky Hoffman
Executive Production by Lazerbeak and Grant Meachum
Front & Back cover photos by Zoe Prinds-Flash
Interior Photos by Zoe Prinds-Flash and Paul Phillips
Design & layout by Kai Benson

Vocal Director: Aby Wolf
Vocalists: Ashley DuBose, Cameron Kinghorn, Matthew Santos, Aby Wolf
Drummer: Joey Van Phillips
Electric Bassist: Andrew Foreman

All songs arranged for orchestra by Andy Thompson
(with percussion arrangement by Joey Van Phillips on “Jumprope,” “Fighting Fish,” and “Skeleton Key”

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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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