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The album’s seamlessness owes plenty to Dessa’s voice — assured, reasoned and yet haunted, whether she’s singing pop songs or delivering harsh truths as one of the more distinctive MCs on the loaded Doomtree roster.
Understatement rules. Even when Dessa flexes, as on “5 out of 6,” she does so with humor and sly cleverness. “Ride,” an atmospheric plunge into a slowly unfolding nightmare beneath the street lights, sets an ominous tone, and a cello line gives the resolve of “Velodrome” a melancholy air. Wistfulness wanders through the childhood reminiscences of “Jumprope,” and “I Hope I’m Wrong” is a eulogy delivered when the wound of losing a loved one is still raw. There are moments of playfulness, notably “Boy Crazy” and the humorous interlude “Shrimp,” but mostly Dessa finds the emotional turbulence inside life’s most pensive moments. The album title is like a wish for a woman alone with her thoughts: “Chime” as in “chime in.”
Dessa’s originality is more evident as a rapper than as a singer — the pop vocal melodies are pleasant, but not nearly as distinctive as what she brings as a poet-MC. When she combines the two, as on “Fire Drills,” she achieves a sublime synthesis. Though not a particularly political artist, Dessa crafts a #MeToo moment for the ages with a song about how women measure their day. “You can’t be too broke to break,” she raps. Is getting through a day on the road without incident a win? Is being vigilant a job description? Is just getting by enough? The song is one long paraphrase of Peggy Lee’s eternal lament: Is that all there is? On an album brimming with haunted daydreams, it’s the one that lingers the longest.
|2||5 Out of 6||3:32|
|9||Half of You||3:30|
|11||I Hope I'm Wrong||2:24|
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