The Austin Chronicle


Reviewed by Abby Johnston, November 8, 2013, Music


Parts of Speech (Doomtree Records)

No one listens to Dessa for her singing. Until now, perhaps. In her proper follow-up to 2010's A Badly Broken Code, the Minneapolis rapper demonstrates an increasing comfort in the nuances and juxtaposition of narrative storytelling. Between smoky alto first-person accounts and demure blues, Parts of Speech creates characters like "Annabelle," who holds attention at least half as well as Edgar Allen Poe's. The Doomtree collective's leading lady spits with the best of them, but, increasingly, her proclivities lie in singing. On torch-bearing anthem "Skeleton Key," Dessa's hyper-aware of her limitations, frolicking safely within the confines of her range, yet she delivers her best, most confident vocals on "Fighting Fish" and "The Lamb," both equal parts rap and singing. Top it off with the riveting lyrical rhythms of "Warsaw" and a seductive cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Going Down" and this is one Speech you won't squirm through. (Sunday, 2:15pm, Blue stage)


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