On their latest project, Philly cellist and singer-songwriter Daniel De Jesús dissects authenticity and embraces themself in a gripping, holistic manner.
With an poignant presence of strings, Kyrie is a sonically and lyrically intense record that focuses on the dynamics of repression, particularly when it comes to a person’s self-identity. On the opening title track, De Jesús sings of being set free in an ethereal soundscape and heart-wrenching vocals: “Forgive a caged bird / For singing too loudly / Forgive the caged bird for wanting to fly.” This theme is explored differently throughout the record, turning to a positive outlook on keeping a repressed identity, like on Hallelujah: “I praise the terror that keeps me bound / And keeps me from seeking love / Protects me from caring too much.”
De Jesús’ vocals are especially adept at matching the sonic landscapes of the instrumental arrangements and the feelings that they convey, with their vocals intensifying as strings gain speed while also grounding listeners as their breathy, silky and vibrant voice breaks into drawn-out harmonies.
De Jesús described the project via Bandcamp:
“Kyrie, a cry for mercy, from the elements of divine power, we beseech thee. In this collection of songs, mercy is sought by analysis and documentation of our inner anxieties. By calling them out and dissecting them, there is an artifact left behind. We are left with a case study of repressive behaviors, channeled through a mystic lens and then back at us, like a mirror, constantly evaluating whether the inner demon we live with is still present. Kyrie begs to ask mercy from ourselves, to be kinder to ourselves, and to look at the fears we are willing to cradle or let go.”
The “case study” within Kyrie is quite clear, as De Jesús often narrates two sides of the same coin. The dreamy “A Pact Between Us” delves into the idea of a bond as a beautiful thing, whereas the record closes with opposition towards relationships, as De Jesús emotionally sings “because I don’t deserve love.”
Kyrie, while seemingly an inward analysis for De Jesús, also presents the same questions and thought-provoking lyrics for listeners. Captivating them within the sensuous and other-worldly string arrangements that incorporate urgent and electronically-twinged percussion, De Jesús prompts others to explore self-expression and how external factors interact with one’s sense of self. Listen to Kyrie here.