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Mal Devisa: Just A Bass Guitar And, Oh, That Soulful Voice

Northampton’s Deja Carr—performing under the name Mal Devisa—is a vocal powerhouse. Yes, she is a talented multi-instrumentalist (bass guitar, saxophone). Yes, she makes clever use of loops. Yes, she is a young, ultra-motivated overachiever. But that voice. That is the reason why her performances are so captivating. It doesn’t seem possible that she is not yet 20 years old.

Her voice soars above the music with R&B flair, however she manages to apply an incredible amount of indie creativity. At every turn she seems to have something new to offer up, working beautiful musical textures with honest heart-felt lyrics.

If it seems odd to perform with only an electric bass as accompaniment—as she did beneath the Bridle Path bridge on Boston's Riverway for us last summer—Carr explains, “I’ve played bass for less than a year. … I was like, I need to start a solo project and I can’t play guitar. I cannot do it. My friend gave me a bass, and I was like, I guess I can make long sustained notes and sing over it. And it was like, 'Dooo,' a little bit of singing and then 'Dooo.' It was pretty bad.”

Carr keeps up a very healthy touring schedule, despite the mental strain: “I think touring for me is boring, because I’m by myself; I’m a solo act. … It’s such an emotional roller coaster.”

But she brightly adds, “Mal Devisa will never break up unless I go completely insane.”

WBUR’s Off The Record records great bands playing in unexpected places across greater Boston. Follow us on Twitter @OTRwbur and on Tumblr.

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