Kassi Valazza has a viscous, light gold voice. It swirls around in your head like whiskey in a snifter; vaporous, and intoxicating. For most of Dear Dead Days pedal steel and electric guitar lope along at half time, the in pocket rhythm section booming from deep in the low end. Its frequencies penetrate your flesh. The songs reverberate off your bones. Her lyrics drip down the inside of your skull. On the opening track “Cayuse” “cause they’re hard runnin’ critters, and wild-eyed quitters / kicking up all they can find / that fool hardy man of mine”
Musicians with Southwest origins dependably bring a languorous relaxation — the slow pace a defense against the oppressive heat of the high desert — and a grim sense of gravitas, having walked among the bleached bones and arid landscapes. At times Valazza sings as if her lyrics are smoke she’s exhaling. On “A Fine Colour” she sings every note clearly, and with force, on a surrealist-jealousy jawn.