Helena Deland’s debut album Someone New isn’t exactly this talented artists introduction to the musical landscape but it sure is a beautiful coming out story. Deland has been known to music fans from her wonderful series of EPs, From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. I, II, III & IV, that came out in 2018. These collections were originally intended to form her debut full length but Deland felt there wasn’t enough of a thematic through line through them but across the songs on Someone New Deland explores such topics as gender, power, aging and how it feels to be scrutinized as a woman in the music industry and throughout her romantic relationships. It is an assured collection of music from an artist that is perceptive and immensely skilled and it is one of the best records you will hear this year.
From the opening synth drone of title track “Someone New” finds Deland’s vocals just floating above the din, her voice assertive and crystal clear. When the lilting guitar takes over and her melody falls into place it is revelatory. The track keeps building with the drums providing not only the back beat to hold it together but also a new texture that keeps the song moving as Deland’s voice swells and rockets around the proceedings. The production throughout Someone New is quite remarkable. Working with longtime collaborator Gabe Wax, Deland deftly uses the arrangements of these songs to enhance her lyrical content and never once does it overwhelm them. “Truth Nuggets” kicks off with a drifting bass line and motorik drumbeat explores the disparity found in romantic relationships. Singing about how the man in her life is comfortable enough to say whatever is on their mind all the time while perceiving herself as some sort of puzzle they are unable to understand. After the first couple listens to Someone New, absorbing the fabric and sounds of the songs, you can really start to zero in on exactly what Deland is saying.
Her vocal melodies are across the board perfectly catchy and full of thoughtful lyrical examinations of the things she has personally gone through in relationships. This is a very personal record but because Deland is such a good writer, her experiences are easily relatable to your own and it’s just one of the many special skills she has as a songwriter. One of the album highlights, “Dog” starts with a dusty synth and absolutely rockets emotionally when she sings, “I will let you get away/with everything little thing that you want to do/it may not be you for me but me for you/I hate to your dog/but I have everything to gain/from with your hand on my head like I’m about to be dragged,” and it is devastating. She sings about how she will forgive this person while simultaneously letting them get away with anything they want over a rugged break beat and synth strings. “Pale” is about the feeling of aging and what exactly the place you think you should be finding yourself in the world by a supposed best before date all over a four on the floor beat and some head bopping synth bass. “Comfort, Edge” relaxed soul is filled with some superb tension musically and lyrically, particularly in the pre chores when Deland sings, “You’ll make it so/It’s easy for me to get away from you/Without me having to tell you/Where I go or what I do/And all the while protecting and giving me security/I never have to doubt when I come back/You’ll still be there for me.” This type of delicate introspection is found throughout the running time of Someone New and it goes to a long way to showcase how good of a lyricist DeLand is.
As a debut album Someone New is amazingly bold and exciting. Deland has clearly spent a lot of time crafting these songs and it makes for a truly remarkable listening experience and it’s exciting to think of how many more great records there are to come.
order Someone New by Helena Deland here