Dehd, the Chicago-based trio of Emily Kempf (vocals/bass), Jason Balla (vocals/guitar), and Eric McGrady (drums), announce their new album, ‘Flower of Devotion,’ for release on July 17th via Fire Talk, and today present its lead single/video, “Loner.”
‘Flower of Devotion’ sees the band coming to the international stage for the first time, following a European tour with Twin Peaks at the end of 2019. Lead single “Loner” examines Kempf’s period of self-focus and isolation, following the band’s touring: “Play it right boy, play for keeps // I’m the right kind, play for me // I’ve had enough of each other // Want nothing more than to be a loner.”
“It’s okay to be lighthearted in the face of despair,” Kempf says. It’s a theme that runs through the album; at every turn, sadness is countered by joy, joy is tempered by sadness. “Being alone and grieving is very isolating,” she continues, “but then you come out of your little cave of grief, and your friends and family and partner are all there to pat you on the back and hold you until you have to go back into the cave of grief alone.”
The song is a declaration; Kempf’s vocals are vibrant, backed up spirited guitar and a pulsing drum beat. Its highly stylized video, directed by Ryan Hartand Kempf, features Alex Grelle, Sarah Squirm, and Noelia Towers. It was shot on location in Joshua Treeand at Chicago’s beloved The Hideout.
Dehd went into the album’s writing and recording with clear minds, ready to take what they’d learned on their previous record, 2019’s ‘Water’, and refine it further. “The last record the vibe was ‘How minimal can it be? What’s the minimum that a song requires to succeed?’ This one was like, ‘How can we make this thing that’s really powerful?,” says Balla. Kempf clarifies: “We didn’t become more perfectionist. We’ve always been really scrappy, but we decided to polish our scrappiness just a little bit.”
That polish brings out the shining and melancholy undertones in Balla and Kempf’s songwriting, even as it captures them at their most strident. His guitar lines at times flirt with ticklish cosmic country, while at others they reflect the dark marble sounds of Broadcast. Kempf, meanwhile, establishes herself as a singer of incredible expressive range, pinching into a high lonesome wail, letting loose a chirping “ooh!,” pushing her voice below its breaking point and letting it swing down there. When she and Balla bounce descending counter-melodies off one another over McGrady’s one-two thumps, or skitter off over a programmed drum pad, they sound like The B-52s shaking off heartache.
While they were writing the album, Kempf says, “we both went through hell, literally, and the world seems to be going through hell, too.” Balla experienced profound loss and all that comes with it: For him, the album is about “all the fixes you try to put on your problems,”he says, “struggling with bad impulses.” Kempf, for her part, cultivated the sense of self-sufficiency she craved, which forced her to confront her own need for attachment. “I’m obsessed with being with people, or I’ll have my identity attached to a partnership, whether it’s romantic or in the band,” she says. “How can I be utterly alone and chill?”
‘Flower of Devotion’ will be released on July 17th and is available to pre-order here: https://ffm.to/dehdforever
‘Flower of Devotion’ track list:
4. Drip Drop
10. No Time