On her debut project, Delacey spills her heart out with zero inhibition, speaking truth about love and sex and fear and strength. With a narrative voice that’s both self-aware and sharply poetic, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter instills each track with the melodic ingenuity she’s shown in co-writing songs like Halsey’s “Without Me” (a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100), and ultimately builds an infinitely fascinating body of work.
“As a lyricist I’m always writing from a very personal place, no matter who I’m writing for, because I really don’t know how to do it any other way,” says Delacey. “But this whole project was just on another level as far as using my own voice and my own language, and being completely unashamed to say whatever I wanted.”
Released via HITCO—an independent label founded by legendary hitmaker L.A. Reid—Delacey’s debut project reveals all the elements that have magically converged to mold Delacey as an artist: the mesmerizing vocal presence honed in part by singing in church as a kid, the dreamy intensity shaped by her lifelong love of singers like Stevie Nicks and Billie Holiday, the easy candor that traces back to being raised on throwback hip-hop. In bringing the project to life, Delacey worked solely with producer Ido Zmishlany, holing up in his basement studio in Brooklyn for three weeks and tapping into the potent chemistry the two discovered after meeting in a 2016 session. “I love working with Ido because he lets me be myself so unapologetically,” says Delacey. “With this project there was a lot of crying and a lot of making things up on the spot and recording them in one take—I just wanted everything to be as raw as possible.”
On her slow-burning debut single “My Man,” that rawness unfolds in a beautiful mess of emotions. Threading each line with her airy yet soulful vocal work, Delacey telegraphs both toughness and vulnerability as she confronts a potential threat to her relationship (e.g., “Bitch, don’t steal my man/He’s got a weakness for girls like you”). “I really like the balance in that song, how I’m being my feisty Italian self but also building up this other woman by talking about how dope she is,” she notes. Fiery and fantastically unhinged, “Chapel” finds Delacey in the grips of all-out infatuation, while “Black Coffee” brings dizzying beats and hypnotic guitar tones to a tender meditation on her own darkness. On “The Subway Song,” meanwhile, Delacey perfectly captures the strange paradox of feeling hopelessly alone in the chaos of New York City. And in a particularly brilliant burst of inspiration, she and Zmishlany created the track’s train-like rhythm by banging on a piano, and also included a vocal take recorded inside a subway tunnel.
Originally from Orange County, Delacey started writing songs and playing piano at age seven, mining influence from the massive vinyl collection her dad handed down to her. “When I was little the posters on my wall were Elvis and the Beatles and Led Zeppelin; I was immersed in all that music my whole life,” she says. After graduating high school—despite getting kicked out twice—Delacey took off for New York City with dreams of kickstarting her music career. “I didn’t know one person in the industry, and I was so broke and lost and lonely the entire time,” she recalls. Although she headed home after six months, her misadventures inspired her to write “New York City”—a track that eventually landed in the hands of The Chainsmokers, who recorded it for their 2015 EP Bouquet. Delacey continued to find success as a songwriter, lending her lyrical and melodic finesse to tracks by artists like Demi Lovato and Zara Larsson. When her talents caught the attention of L.A. Reid, she played him the music she’d made with Zmishlany, and quickly scored a deal with HITCO. “I didn’t know if I was ready to even show those songs to anyone, but I could immediately feel that L.A. got it,” she says. “He told me how he didn’t want to change anything about who I am as an artist, and he’s absolutely kept his word on that.”
The intense impact of Delacey’s music has much to do with her instinct-driven creative process. “When I’m writing I don’t ever write the lyrics down—I just keep them in my brain, and sing the song out until it all comes together,” she says. And with the release of her debut project, Delacey hopes that her purposely unfiltered songwriting might bring catharsis to others. “I’m really just an endless bank of crazy things I’ve gone through, and I feel like I’ve worked so many emotional rollercoasters into all of these songs,” she says. “I made a point of saying things that maybe most people would never say, so hopefully that helps people to connect in a really honest way—and I hope that it makes them a little uncomfortable sometimes too.”