Deanna Devore | Half and Half (new EP)
Where there is good balance, there is harmony. Taking in a well-balanced variety of music can be as enjoyable to some as savoring a smooth, well-balanced wine. Half and Half, the new EP from Chicago/Toronto-based indie musician Deanna Devore is the musical equivalent of that incredibly well-balanced wine - smooth, velvety and complex, with elegant finesse.
As the title suggests, Half and Half presents two different, but complementary musical styles juxtaposed and blended across the seven tracks that embody this introspective, mesmerizing musical excursion. The downtempo fusion of electronic and acoustic, in a musical style that has influences of jazz, neo-soul and R&B is effective and appealing. Throughout Half and Half we are wooed by Deanna's enchanting, smooth vocals - reminiscent of iconic vocalists the likes of Sade and Dido. Looking to de-stress from a chaotic day? Half and Half is the perfect musical therapy to get you there.
Electronic is the initial focus, as the EP opens with the three downtempo, lounge/R&B-inspired singles that preceded the release of Half and Half - "Seven Eight", "Effortlessly" and "A Cause." The EP begins its transition from electronic to acoustic via atmospheric crossover track "Fuels", and follows with the stripped-down "In a Way" and absolutely gorgeous "Breathing Room" - each predominantly acoustic with the perfect added touch of atmospheric, electronic undertones. "When I Go Home" brings the listener back to soothing, electronic downtempo, and is the perfect ending to this outstanding EP.
I recently caught up with Deanna to talk a bit about Half and Half, and gain some insight into how the final flow and production came about.
[STMB]: Congratulations on the EP release! It's clear that some of the songs on Half and Half are presented with a more electronic focus, and others with more prevalent acoustic guitar. Was it always clear to you, when you originally started writing/recording each of the songs, how each would eventually be presented?
[DD]: It wasn't always clear. It depends on the song but there were a couple that went through some transformations during the recording process. “A Cause” for instance was written in a more folky/acoustic guitar based way. And then when I recorded it, I ended up taking the guitar out completely and making it more synth/beat based. I’d say for most of them, however, I had already envisioned the production style. [STMB]: The visual theme that has accompanied the EP, and the singles leading up to it, is impressive and nicely complements the balance of electronic and acoustic. Was there any collaboration on the accompanying visuals to match the musical themes?
[DD]: Yes, I wanted the half and half idea to carry through in the cover art. The cover art is actually a photograph of me - the photographer experimented with some double exposure and it worked out really well.
[STMB]: The entire EP is fantastic and flows nicely as a start-to-finish listen. My two favorites are "Effortlessly" and "Breathing Room." I think you've written the perfect Dido track with the latter! How did these two songs come to life?
[DD]: Those two songs probably capture the two different production styles and sounds the best. "Effortlessly" is more downtempo electronic/RnB inspired and "Breathing Room" is pretty much straight up acoustic. "Effortlessly" was actually written after the album was already completed. I ended up deciding that I wanted it on the album and so I added it last minute. At the time, I was listening to a lot of jazz/neo-soul/RnB and really liked the vibe of "Effortlessly." I remember feeling like "Breathing Room" sort of wrote itself. I probably finished the structure of the song in 30 minutes. It's weird when that happens. It's just more of a simple, pretty, straight to the point, acoustic song.
Deanna and her band are hitting the road in a few weeks for the Half and Half Fall Tour! If you're able to attend one of her performances, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed! At time of writing, confirmed tour dates are as follows:
NOV 08 - CHICAGO, IL - Sofar Sounds NOV 11 - TORONTO, CANADA - 3030 NOV 12 - ROCHESTER, NY - Small World Books NOV 13 - NEW YORK, NY - Rockwood Music Hall NOV 14 - PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Fire NOV 15 - WASHINGTON, DC - Velvet Lounge NOV 16 - PITTSBURGH, PA - Howard's Pub
NOV 17 - CLEVELAND, OH - Happy Dog At The Euclid Tavern