Italian-born, London-based songwriter heka is releasing her debut EP (a) on Balloon Machine in a few weeks, and, having already shared the beautifully wonky “(a) wall”, she returns today with “(a) dab”. Introducing the song, she says:
“Sometimes being in love can feel like being on drugs. There is a similar kind of influence that we willingly, and then inevitably, accept to be under; where we choose to give ourselves up. I guess there is a desire, in a sense, to be weak and vulnerable, and sometimes the wrong person can take advantage of that. This is what this song means to me.”
“(a) dab” finds heka in an unhealthy, borderline dangerous level of infatuation, to the point where she’s being physically controlled but still sees the world through rose-tinted glasses: “you hold me pinned against the wall / oh god why did I fall in love with you?” She delivers all these images in twirling lines, her elemental voice not betraying any hurt but purely devotion – it’s a strange cognitive dissonance to hear such painful proclamations delivered in such a beautiful manner, but heka is already a master of these kinds of juxtapositions. The wobbling synth that underpins “(a) dab” effectively replicates the wooziness she feels around this person, and as her conflicted thoughts of love and fear start to coil into a deceptively stunning knot of inchoate layers and harmonies we think she’ll break away – and yet by the end she’s “lying on the floor, I can’t pick my limbs up / I’ve done it once before and I’d forgotten how it stings.” It’s far from a happy ending, but with all the deft instrumental, emotional and vocal elements combined, it is a mightily stirring one, and further proof of heka’s alchemical songwriting genius.