SPELLLING, the project of Bay Area-based Chrystia Cabral, has announced her new album The Turning Wheel, out on June 25th via Sacred Bones.
The Turning Wheel is the follow-up to 2019’s Mazy Fly, and revolves around themes of human unity, the future, divine love and the enigmatic ups and downs of being a part of this carnival called life. SPELLLING took on the ambitious task of orchestrating and self-producing an album that features an ensemble of 31 collaborating musicians. The Turning Wheel is split into two halves — “Above” and “Below.” Lush string quartet shimmer combines with haunting banjo and wandering bassoon leads, as the album progresses from the more jubilant, warm, and dreamy mood of the “Above” tracks to the more chilling and gothic tone of the “Below” tracks. This progression is anchored by SPELLLING’s vocal style that emphasizes the theatrical and folkloric heart of her songwriting.
“Above” is opened by lead single, “Little Deer,” which surges with piano, her bewitching voice, and 17 different acoustic instruments. It was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting Wounded Deer, in which she depicts herself as an animal and human hybrid.
“‘Little Deer’ is definitely a thesis track,” explains SPELLLING. “I feel that way because it not only showcases the greatest range of instrumentation that is featured on the album, but also because it accomplishes this strong impression of theater that I was striving for with the album as a whole. I’m especially proud of the lyrics. The challenge with the lyric writing was being able to speak to really large concepts like karma, reincarnation and the cycle of life without making the song sound burdened. I wanted the lyrics to match the grandeur of the instrumentation but still be easy to sing along to. I figured out a way to build the lyrics using a lot of abstract language that is still singable but odd in a way that I hope makes it memorable.”
Listen to “Little Deer” below:
The Turning Wheel had an original release date of September 2020, but the forced pause ended up serving as a blessing in disguise. Navigating the chaos of recording and producing the remaining instrumentalists – either remotely or through rigid socially distanced studio sessions – was immensely difficult, however the delays ultimately opened up the opportunity for SPELLLING to dedicate more attention to her lyrics.
The Turning Wheel artwork & tracklist:
01. Little Deer
03. Turning Wheel
04. The Future
06. Emperor with an Egg
07. Boys at School
09. Queen of Wands
10. Magic Act
12. Sweet Talk