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Dessa waxes on the weight of all her words

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For musician Dessa, words carry a lot of weight.

That is why her new album, “Parts of Speech,” is full of creative lyrics and songs that run the gamut through genres.

“I know it can be tricky,” Dessa says during a recent interview. “I wanted to create a cohesive project that takes listeners on a journey. I also didn’t want to artificially constrain it to one genre.”

Dessa, born Margret Wander, worked on the album for three years and admits to being a slow songwriter.

“I usually carry a notebook and I also use my iPhone to capture snippets,” she says. “Then I’ll jigsaw the pieces together. That’s the way I work.”

Dessa has a background in the fields of creative nonfiction, spoken word and hip-hop, which helped her cross various genres on the album.

“I wanted to investigate the idea that a cohesive record isn’t always made cohesive by having 12 songs that sound the same. I figured when you make a mixtape for a friend, you can get away with a range of genres and a lot of dynamic change,” she explains.


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“Why can’t I approach an album like that? The sequence has to be just right, and we worked hard to nail it, but the thing that holds this record together is the sensibility of the lyrics, rather than a uniform theme.”

Dessa describes her music as a great, lost M. Night Shyamalan movie, calling forth an era out of time in each story.

“This record involves multiple narratives. It explores the same themes of love, loss, connection and communion as a lot of my work, but the angle and lens through which they’re explored sets this album apart from my previous ones,” she says. “The production techniques were new for me too – we spent a lot of time crafting a record that could include live players, Doomtree production and sometimes a blend of the two.”

Dessa says she takes a different approach to recording her vocals before heading into the studio.

“I have this little closet in my house,” she says. “It’s outfitted for me to record my vocals. I’ll lock myself in there and lay down all of the vocals and then take them to the studio to be incorporated with the music. This is comfortable to me and works out well.”