Mal Devisa was a name I heard about a lot before ever getting a chance to see them live. It’s the project of Northampton, Massachusetts-based Deja Carr, and she seems like the exemplar musician’s musician, at least for right now: endlessly brilliant, but more present on the show circuit than in any tangible recorded form. That kind of word-of-mouth gathering among creative types does wonders for a flourishing talent, though, and when I finally got to see her open for Mitski on Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago, Carr already had an established presence, and each song felt like a revelation. Armed with only a bass and a keyboard (used sparingly), Mal Devisa was solitary and imposing; her songs ached across the entire crowd. It was one of those magical performances you come across every so often that leave you buzzing afterwards.
Kiid is Mal Devisa’s first full collection of songs. (She’s previously released two EPs, which were recently compiled onto a tape with a few other new tracks.) It’s a marvel at every turn. Carr switches off regularly from soulful croons to callous raps — she excels at both, bringing her inimitable voice and perspective. She talks of displacement and isolation, exerting control and trying to establish independence. Her songs are tender and remorseful, confident and cool. “In My Neighborhood,” “Next Stop,” and “Dominatrix” throb with life; “Fire,” “Live Again,” and “Forget That I.” burn like dull embers. Kiid is an astounding work, and speaks for itself — I haven’t been this immediately taken with a record in a long while. It’s a classic. Listen below.
Kiid is out now.