no. 9 — Kiid by Mal Devisa
Let me talk about a hometown hero real quick, because this album is insane. Mal Devisa is one of the coolest artists I’ve ever heard. She does more with just her voice and a bass guitar than anyone could do with five times that many instruments. She switches genres with ease, combining hard-hitting rap songs like “Fat” and “Dominatrix” with the eerily beautiful and sparse “Forget That I”. This one-woman storm of an artist is Deja Carr. She’s been written about in Pitchfork and Stereogum, almost toured with Mitski, and collaborated with so many amazing artists it can be hard to keep track.
Every time I’ve seen Mal Devisa play live, I hold my breath. She has that effect on audiences, easily holding every person rapt and attentive. Her voice is both commanding and soft, the loops she builds from scratch on stage are organic and mesmerizing. Listening to her music I feel like she might be a genius; she has pure, raw talent. This album is so dynamic and so ensnaring that it blows my mind. Not only should you listen to every single track, but I absolutely implore you to buy this album. It’s worth every cent. Or just throw her some cash because she’s absolutely excellent and the world should do everything it can to support Black artists. Her venmo is Deja-Carr, and her paypal is email@example.com.
I’m not sure why, but most of the times I’ve seen Mal Devisa live have been in basements. One was a house show held in the basement of a rickety farmhouse in Hadley, MA. Another time was in a basement dance studio at Amherst college. I’ve also seen her at local festivals, DIY shows, and opening for big name bands, but no matter what the venue, her voice fills the space. In the basement shows, she set up a single spinning colorful disco light from the 90’s and stood with a bass, singing to a dead-silent crowd. In the festival shows, she stands alone on a big stage, playing through her repertoire with a remarkable ease. Her songs hit so many emotional chords that I often feel like I’m cracking open when I listen to them.
This album is more stripped back than “Shade and the little Creature” which came later and dropped out of nowhere in 2018. But no matter what form Mal Devisa takes, she is fucking amazing. Both albums nod towards her history with jazz music, her experience as a Black woman, and her love of music and creating. Her music carves out its own path among the genres that try to constrict it. Her voice can simultaneously soothe and shock you. Do yourself a favor; buy her music.
You can listen and buy her albums here