[All images courtesy of Gloria Deo]
For those of us who go to college, it is often an experience that involves more learning outside of the classroom than in it. Gloria Deo, a singer-songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA, was creative enough to turn her own college experience into an album, Two Chords, and wants to share it to help others who have had similar experiences.
When asked to talk a bit about the inspiration behind Two Chords, Gloria explained that the songs, which she wrote during college, “reflect on the experiences and feelings that often time couple developing a sense of identity,” as so many of us do during school. Her journey was at once unique and relatable:
“I spent a lot of time doing things I hated only because I was afraid of…accepting myself for who I am. I drank too much. I struggled with developing a sense of confidence. During this time, I also experienced my first heartbreak and the death of my father. Both of these experiences showed me what real pain and total loss of control is….Writing these songs and giving space and a name to all of these emotions, behaviors, and personality defects has helped me a lot. And now, because I was able to make this album, I can share it with other people. And that is really my plan for the future.”
As a whole, Two Chords was honest in a way that’s rare in today’s music industry. I enjoyed its quiet thoughtfulness and the clarity of thoughts Gloria was able to express in detailed, lyrical descriptions. With a mix of classic singer-songwriter vibes and utter freshness, Gloria truly created something special with Two Chords.
“Strong Suit” begins the album with a quietly haunting guitar track followed by light, vibrating vocals that reflect the lyrics’ melancholy aesthetic: “Being specific was never my strong suit/It’s always been easier to imply that I’m no good/And it’s sad because I know if I tried, I could probably do it.” The track as a whole is simple in a way that allows it to shine past the over-saturated noise of many other artists’ attempts at a song like “Strong Suit.” It’s easy to tell that Gloria infused real feeling into this one.
The second track, “Lucky for You,” was a bit fuller than “Strong Suit,” but still featured a delicate balance of vocals and instrumentals. With the addition of harmonies, Gloria’s voice is the star of this track. A unique spin on the classic breakup song, Gloria’s vocals are painfully honest in a way that declares her own heart-wrenching autonomy in tone as well as words: “Every mention of your name is a battle fought against rationality and love/But lucky for you, I’m not in love with you anymore/And lucky for you, I’ve got so much I’m living for.”
The instrumental lines of “Revelations” continued the album’s simple, acoustic theme, allowing Gloria’s lyrics to take center stage: “Why do I go out at night/When I know I’ll feel alone/In the corner against a wall in a stranger’s home.” Highlighting the social insecurities many of us try so hard to hide, Gloria opens up about feelings we all experience: loneliness, social anxiety, and insecurities with ourselves. The arc of the song shows character development as the lyrics explore these emotions and the questions that come with them, slowly moving towards self-discovery in a realistic way.
I would have loved it if there was a transition of some sort between “Revelations” and “Voice Memos,” as they feature two very different sounds, albeit similar feelings. I enjoyed the track’s use of some deeper chords and tones to balance out the high end: The low end added extra layers to the instrumental parts, making sure they didn’t sound too empty without vocals. As a bassist, I might be biased, but it would be interesting to hear a rockier version of this track with bass and drums added into the mix.
“Dogs Do Not Eat Dogs” was my favorite track of Two Chords. I loved the jazzy feel and upbeat tempo, but I especially appreciated the nuances of the connection between the vocals and instrumentals through every little twist and turn of the track. The lyrics’ phrasing was so interesting and created just the right amount of rub, keeping me easily intrigued throughout all of the songs’ transitions.
The way “Dogs Do Not Eat Dogs” transitions into “Let It Linger” is much smoother than earlier gaps between songs. “Let It Linger” brings us back to earlier musical themes of the album with effervescent vocals and slow, sad instrumentals. The lyrics are poetic and haunting, painting a detailed story for listeners to explore: “Given the chance it will humiliate all of your best intentions/And it will twist the words right out of your mouth/Don’t let it linger.” Incorporating hints of the driving, deeper tones from “Dogs Do Not Eat Dogs” in the second half of the track, “Let It Linger” is another strong example of Gloria’s talent.
Initially, the lyrics in “My Sheets” were a bit disappointing compared to the other tracks in terms of originality. The comparison between a knife and words is always a bit cliche due to its overuse in many songs and poems, so I would have loved if a different metaphor was used, or it was expanded upon in a more unique way. That being said, the rest of the track didn’t disappoint. The lyrics, “Someone opens the door on me/And naked in the light, I’m sitting/’Cause time changes these colors,” were much stronger and concrete in terms of images. The words and phrasings were interesting to listen to in themselves, especially how the title is incorporated into the song in such a unique way.
“Ghost of My Cells/Tony Two Chords” brings Two Chords to an end with gorgeous imagery: “There’s a heaviness hanging on my chest/Keeping my shoulders bowed around my neck/And in the gallows between my ribs hangs my sins.” In terms of lyrics, “Ghost of My Cells/Tony Two Chords” was my favorite track. The instrumentals were simple, but served the song well to allow Gloria’s masterful lyricism to emerge one last time, bringing the album to a solid close.
Gloria plans to keep playing shows around Philadelphia and beyond, continuing to write songs as she goes. While she still struggles with many of the topics included in Two Chords, Gloria is comforted to know that there are others who are able to relate to her music and experiences. “That is the best part of making and sharing music.”
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