By Adeem Bingham, Staff Writer
D’orjay is an emerging country artist from a rural Canadian town with an absolutely staggering debut record. New Kind of Outlaw is bold as hell, turning common phrases and themes upside down and declaring her place in the history and evolution of the genre with unapologetic confidence. The the opener, a massive yee-haw agenda anthem the album takes it’s name from, asks, “I love country music / will country music love me?”
There is a moment in this song where she welcomes a “target on her back” for “reminding you all country music is Black” that made me feel furiously excited. It’s just the kind of song that plays in a film at the climactic scene where the fallen hero begins to rise up again, still full of fight. Hell of a way to open a debut record.
“Grandma Luvy’s House” is a touching ode to her grandmother that opens with piano and vocals but surprises with this syncopated Reggae plucking on electric guitar that plays against the rhythmic, paced banjo part wonderfully. There is so much earnestness in her lyrics and in her delivery as she plays with the memory of eating cookie batter from the bowl.
“You aren’t leaving me / You’re leaving possibilities.” From the first note of “Float On (I Choose Me),” I was stolen. It’s piano driven but flooded with steel guitar and a delicate string section. D’orjay’s voice is full of warmth and power and she wields it with such a delicate attention to every emotional nuance. If you give these songs your attention, they will make you feel things.
She is called the Singing Shaman because she practices Pranic Healing, offering a platter of otherworldly services ranging from full-moon meditations and tarot, to divination. The stuff your youth group leader might’ve made you burn books about. So it’s no surprise that the songs are full of an intangible magic.
With a tempered and seasoned voice, D’orjay conjures a trailer bar off a rural highway in the orchestration of “One Day Closer.” Jangly blues riff, bouncing keyboard, fiddle that weaves in and out, and that tragic steel guitar; it has all the honky-tonk aesthetics.
One of my favorites is “Whodatman,” guided by a simple and crisp banjo part. “Turn off the TV / Time to live life / that’s right in front of me,” hearkens to John Prine and is full of the kind of healing self-reflection that is the mark of her spiritual work. There’s also a really tasteful guitar solo in the final arc of the song that hits all the right places.
The album closes with her rendition of The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight.” The interpretation is unique and disarming. It’s a strong take on the Jakob Dylan song, living up to the original with an electric and passionate performance; a fitting closing number for such a perfectly executed collection. New Kind of Outlaw is a little time capsule full of D’orjay’s passion that bids us, “Come and drink.” I hope you’ll join me.
You can listen to New Kind Of Outlaw now on Spotify.