Dessa
Parts of Speech


4.0
excellent

Review

by Zakusz USER (5 Reviews)
March 7th, 2022 | 8 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dessa has spoken, the only thing left to do is throw it on repeat and start all over again, this time feeling rather than simply listening.

Dessa is a songwriter from Minneapolis, Minnesota with a penchant for crafting melodic hip-hop that hones in on the psyche of love and loss. She began her music career in 2005 with her first EP False Hopes, a record that was warmly received by the region and was released under the Doomtree collective of which she later became a member.

Two studio albums followed, 2010’s A Badly Broken Code, and 2011’s Castor the Twin. The reception to these albums was overwhelming, the bar had been set for her next release as the press swirled around Parts of Speech at the onset of 2013.

The album opens with a callback to better times in the steady pulse of The Man I Knew. The verses have a bite to them that falls off at a fragile refrain before the pace quickens and falls once more into the delicate. This is a perfect example of the style and structure that runs throughout the record, a juxtaposition of strength against frailty. The lyrics are often delivered with an attitude of who cares, until the melodies hit and the nakedness of the whole thing becomes apparent to the listener.

Warsaw is an early album highlight with perhaps the best example of the blend of styles Dessa is known for in her earlier releases. The lyrics burn through the verses with a dominant flow before falling backwards into a synth pulse that frames the chorus with a machine-like vocal delivery.

Fan favorite Skeleton Key comes next before things slow down to a ballad in Dear Marie, perhaps the least interesting track out of the bunch. Things only stall further with the Springsteen cover Going Down, an odd choice from The Boss’ catalog filled to the brim with other highlights that could’ve worked beautifully with Dessa’s impressive vocal range.

The back half of the album contains the poignant Beekeeper, with its beautiful piano arpeggios and its sincere and prophetic lyrics. The cryptic messages that are woven into the tale of this song in particular are lush and epic, belying the song’s quick runtime. Annabelle, the album’s 10th track is a wonderful arrangement for acoustic guitar and haunting melodies. The song tells the story of depression and loneliness and the idea that getting through to someone with such maladies is impossible. There is no hope in the song, this was lost long ago. The chills this track will bring are immense and recall a brighter time in my own personal life when my older brother, Brandon was still alive. We’d throw this record on in my parent’s basement and play video games like children even though both of us should’ve been focusing on more important things in life. We were safe there, even though we were making the wrong choices. This album was a soundtrack to our lives at the time and it means something different now that he is gone, Annabelle in particular.

The album’s closer Sound the Bells is a mighty roar to the world and bookends the album perfectly. Dessa has spoken, the only thing left to do is throw it on repeat and start all over again, this time feeling rather than simply listening.


user ratings (51)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zakusz
March 8th 2022


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album was badly in need of a review on this site, I always feel like this artist is widely overlooked.

Emim
March 9th 2022


32434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never really got into her aside from Doomtree, but her stuff is generally pretty solid.

Zakusz
March 10th 2022


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For me she is a great blend that I keep wanting to come back to over and over. Something about her catalog just grabs me

Ecnalzen
March 20th 2022


11302 Comments


Heard Fire Drills today and was pre in to it

Gonna see what else she has going on

Zakusz
March 21st 2022


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heck yeah! This is a good place to start, probably her best batch of songwriting on here

Ecnalzen
March 21st 2022


11302 Comments


Oh man, I was just binging on her bandcamp page over the weekend. She has some quality stuff. I'm impressed how well she does rapping/singing and can weave back and forth. Glad I heard the random song since I was not aware of her

Gonna have to try out Doomtree, too, methinks

Zakusz
March 23rd 2022


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah! Personally I think she has the best blend of female sing/rap style songwriting out there.

Zakusz
March 23rd 2022


676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Try Dixon's Girl if you haven't jammed it yet, great tune!



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