Review: Helena Deland & Gia Margaret Delivered Complex and Riveting Performances at Schubas
Upon listening to Helena Deland’s music for the first time, it was impossible for me to get her sound out of my head. Over the past couple of years she has released a small collections of songs, From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” (seemingly unconnected to each other as their title implies). Over the serene pop instrumentals that swing from sincere and vibrant to dark and dazed, Deland’s voice spirals around deeply revealing and complex lyrics. The combination is alluring, satisfying, and demanding to be listed to again and again. Live, the experience transitions wonderfully, as Schubas got to see earlier this of the month.
Gia Margaret‘s music set the tone for the night perfectly. The local artist has been playing all over town recently, having just released her debut album There’s Always a Glimmer this year, and I’m more than thankful for it. Margaret’s slow and deliberate cadence offers such a beautiful insight to her folk lined songs, giving them the sort of time and tenderness they deserve. The way she lets the chorus of “Groceries” flow out, giving the repeating “you let the light in” verse breathe and float in your head. It feeds into the complexity of the rest of her songs, like the tumultuous back and forth of “Looking”, where she sings about a bad former love and her willingness to return to it if asked. All the songs form There’s Always a Glimmer, which made up the evening set, deal with personal woes that feel universal and Margret’s gentle voice. Whether it’s writer’s block expressed so succinctly in “Wayne” or the longing of past companionship in “Birthday”, Margaret is able to craft these vivid memories that
When it came time for Helena Deland to come to the stage, the crowd had filled out a bit and were certainly ready for her She immediately treated Schubas with a few new songs with”There Are a Thousand” from volume one of From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” appearing somewhere in the middle of them. The song has Deland’s voice at its most ethereal as she cryptically laments a relationship. Deland performs the song with the utmost poise and confidence, an aura the permeated through the rest of her set .
Deland’s sound more often than not feels quiet and contemplative, delving deep into its almost psychedelic qualities. “A Stone is a Stone” moves across you so slowly and deliberately, almost like a song out of David Lynch film, full of mysterious lyrics that one can’t help but sway along to. Her craft has been honed so carefully, creating a small and instantly identifiable sound that invites experimentation. There are moments throughout where the chilled out atmosphere highlighted by straight up pop sensibilities. “Lean on You” practically bounces along its melody compared other tracks, while “Cauldion” breathes pulsing rhythms into Deland’s cryptic lyrics that evoke and intense evening with with a friends.
There was no encore to cap off the night; Helena Deland’s music catalog is still still relatively small. Instead we got a precise set list that reached a gratifying end. Deland and her band finished of the show with “Baby”, an early song off another small collection of songs called Drawing Room. The song is a great example of Deland, squeezing all the textures and complexity of her ability into one amazing song. Her cadence alluring, the lyrics captivating, the music dizzyingly hazy. The song, which details the feeling of seeing someone who is mesmerizing beyond words, mirrored Deland and her band’s own performance. There is something truly special about Deland and this evening is still deeply imprinted in my mind.
All photos by Julian Ramirez