The Freshmen Series: Deva Mahal releases self titled EP

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 at 6:13 PM
The Freshmen Series: Deva Mahal releases self titled EP by Dakota Palmer

This week’s freshman series pick is breaking a few rules. Typically, the pick is supposed to be a new artist’s debut studio album, but when I came across Deva Mahal, I made an exception. Her self-titled EP appeared in the Spotify “New Releases” section, and I was hooked. I knew I had to tell the world about her lovely voice…even though her EP only consists of three songs.

But, in these three songs, Mahal delivers a silver platter of soul, truth and heart. While brief, the EP makes its mark as an exceptional piece of art. 

The self-proclaimed indie R&B artist and daughter of blues musician Taj Mahal begins the EP with the song “Run Deep,” which is about being yourself and embracing who you are. Her voice, the angelic lovechild of Macy Gray and Adele, seems to glide through the notes with ease. The song begins smoothly, with some background singers contributing light “oohs” and “ahhs” and keeping the rhythm. 

Then, it moves to the chorus — with a rhythmic guitar riff and heavier drum pattern — to really kick the song into gear. The back and forth between the calm verses and the heavier choruses makes for a phenomenal juxtaposition.

The bridge of the song still maintains that smooth, calming background, pairing well with the heavier guitar and drums. Mahal’s Sister, Coco Peila, begins rapping about her life growing up, reiterating the message of being yourself. She states, “Yeah, I lost some battles/But I won the war,” describing how the difficulties in her life have helped her grow into the person she is.

“Snakes” begins very simply with some clapping and simple harmonizing. Then, Mahal uses her energetic and powerful voice to move to more of a jazz-tune, rather than the rock/jazz that “Run Deep” is.

This song has a darker tone, but not one that is uninviting. Upon first listen, you’re immediately transported to a 1950s-jazz club, watching Mahal intensely sing under the blue light of the club.

The final song, “Take a Giant Step,” is the slowest one on the EP. If you were to close your eyes and listen to the song without any context, you would swear this is Adele. Mahal’s beautiful voice mixes so gorgeously with the music, that it’s almost impossible to think I’ve never heard of her until now.

This track is about taking chances and not being afraid to immerse yourself in something new. The lyrics, “Come with me, leave your yesterday behind/Take a giant step outside your mind,” are so comforting, gentle and just generally optimistic; they’re so different from what we typically hear in contemporary music.

Mahal’s talent is going to take her so far, and if her EP is this good, then I cannot wait for a full-length album. Her modern-jazz songs are so unique in the world of music, and they certainly stand out compared to popular artists such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and the like.

Take a listen to the EP…and thank me later. 

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can reached at

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