If western goth chanteuse DEVORA isn’t on your radar yet, it’s inevitable that she will be. In July, the Arizona native released her debut EP, Outlaw, an apocalyptic western oeuvre that tells the tale of a vengeful murderess on the hunt, hightailing her way through the desert wastelands of her hometown and leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
Ariel Levitan, the brains behind DEVORA, has described this project as a liberating coalescence of her unruly style and spontaneous output. “As an innate lover of dark music and country music, I’ve always wanted to fuse the two in some way,” she told Atwood Magazine last month.
On this masterwork of lawless ghost town pop, DEVORA packs zero punches with sharp bass licks that perfectly sync up with the percussion on the simmering opening track, “Fist Fight.” The lyrics on this EP teeter on the edge of self-destruction and the most delicious forms of vengeance. DEVORA sings about putting her traitors in body bags, dousing motels in gasoline, and setting fire to her hometown out of sheer boredom.
Each track is an event all its own, bolstered by DEVORA’s husky, domineering vocal deliveries and lyrics that are packed to the brim with crimes-of-passion narratives that echo Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads and a dark country edge that mirrors Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison tapes. The twisted subject matter and spontaneous industrial production feels like a modern western parallel of Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. “I wanna put you in a body bag/How’s that for a comeback,” she sneers on “Body Bag,” against swells of layered guitar overdrive, arpeggiating at lightning speed.
The anthemic title track, “Outlaw,” is the sonic equivalent of the SYFY hit show Wynonna Earp, a western thriller about a badass feminist demon assassin who takes no prisoners. I could easily picture this song soundtracking a murder sequence in the show where the leading lady massacres a flurry of demons in a drive-by shooting after dousing her liver with moonshine at the local saloon.
The distorted and devilish riffs on “Not Dead Yet,” draw from the post-Sabbath hard rock of 1976. If this were the ’80s and we were living through the Satanic Panic, there’s no doubt that this song would be on multiple lists just for that killer riff alone, which makes it even better. The stripped-down closing track “Elvis,” is essentially a dream pop song with a country twang, combining the reflective storytelling of Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton with the production stylings of Mazzy Star – a combination that works surprisingly well – complete with airy, layered harmonies and simple reverb-soaked strumming.
The soundscapes on this EP are distinctly imminent, alarming, and even cinematic. It’s the sound of a David Lynch surrealist thriller set in the scorching deserts of the Wild West. The mood board, the visuals, and the subject matter are all a product of DEVORA’s own vision, pulling from harrowing personal tales of trauma and rage, and heaps of poetry she’s written throughout her life. Wherever she’s headed in the future, there’s no doubt there will be watchful eyes anticipating her next move.
KEEP UP WITH DEVORA
Stream Outlaw by DEVORA