JASON BALLA of DEHD – Song For Ewe

Photo by Alexa Viscius

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is vocalist/guitarist of a new to us, dead-good trio from Chicago called Dehd. Lead single “Loner” from their new album “Flower of Devotion” (out on 17th July via Fire Talk) is airy, and effortless,  wispy yet still edgy like “Wish” era-Cure, with Lisa Germano lullaby lyricism meets Cyndi Lauper kook from vocalist/bassist Emily Kempf, counterpointed by Go-Betweens-like windswept harmonising from Jason Balla. The song is as haunting as that band’s “Cattle and Cane”, and is an intriguing and gently slaying introduction to Dehd. Obviously to seem that effortless takes a lot of work and a high level of musicality, so I was intrigued to find out the taste of one third of a tantalising new prospect, and it turns out to be a full and welcome left turn from what I was expecting, as is the video for “Loner” in its Lynchian leap from lapdance club to laid bare emotion at the Joshua Tree. Welcome to VS, Jason Balla!

Dehd have been honing their live chops away from their hometown with a European tour with Chicago’s Twin Peaks, and with their earnest learnings they’d decided to refine further what they’d done on previous record “Water”. That one had been ripplingly minimal, or perhaps stylistically economic, but this one aimed to add just enough to add heft without muddying the waters. The result has been a flipside of melancholy with shining melody, like two sides of a spinning coin toss.

During the recording of the album Balla and Kempf in their own words “went through hell…” and while “the world seems to be going through hell too” and while that seems like an unhappy coincidence, through adversity comes great art, and this is great art with a big heart. Balla had suffered “profound loss” and needed to find a perhaps impossible fix, Kempf confronted her problems by trying to become more self-sufficient which careened against her desire to be with people or identify herself by partnership, either romantic or in the band. Her rhetorical question from the press blurb “How can I be utterly alone and chill?” is thrown into sharp relief by the exacerbation of isolation caused by the current Covid-crisis we find ourselves in. The music of “Flower of Devotion” (Jad Fair-esque artwork below) is mournful sure. But it’s also hopeful. Resolute.

You’ll also find comfort in the musical choice of Dehd axis Balla, he’s had a lot of time to reflect and listen, and this one’s a true journey through the emotions, a completely hit-reset moment, ranging from slow velocity to vim and vigour so without further ado, here’s Jason Balla’s “song (or perhaps mix) for ewe”…

“I haven’t been able to stop listening to Physical Medium’s Serotonin 1. It’s an hour long mix that really covers a lot of ground musically, but is unified by a syrup-slow drip that is both heavy and hypnotic. One of the shining moments comes about half way through in the form of a Big L sample from “How Will I Make It?” I’ve never heard that track before and I can’t remember a time where I head banged so hard. Definitely not since quarantine started, that’s for sure.”

And here’s the Big L sample for good measure…

THANKS TO JASON AND TO KATE AT STEREO SANCTITY PR

You can pre-order album “Flower of Devotion” from Bandcamp below.

Here’s some other links you might need to become a Dehd-head…

http://dehd.horse/

http://firetalkrecs.com/dehd/

 

Author: Nick Hutchings

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