What happens when a pint-sized female singer/guitarist JamBase calls a “supersonic fretburner” meets Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson? Gorgeous rock and fierce jamming on the new EP from Debra Devi, A Zillion Stars Overhead.
Carlsson and Devi met backstage at the Beacon after Mule’s NYE 2019 concert. Devi is the first female guitarist to endorse Homestead Amplifiers, which builds custom amps for Carlsson and Warren Haynes. “Jorgen and I got into a deep chat about production and wound up talking about recording together,” Devi explains. “I was thrilled, as I consider him one of rock’s greatest bassists. Six weeks later we were jamming with my drummer, John Hummel, at Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City. I had just played guitar there on a record John Agnello was producing, so I asked him to helm the session. We had a lot of fun together!”
A Zillion Stars Overhead was mixed by Sylvia Massy (Tool, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash). “I’ve always dreamed of working with Sylvia,” Devi adds. “She brought out the power in the recordings, and gave each song a beautiful shimmer.”
A Zillion Stars Overhead also includes a rock/jam cover of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Stay,” reminiscent of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” with layered guitars, and a pounding disco/rock beat. “Jorgen loves heavy rock, but he also loves ABBA,” Devi says, “so I thought he’d enjoy recording ‘Stay,’ which flirts with pop. He gave it the perfect driving Jah Wobble-type bass line.”
The EP closes with Massy’s radio friendly” cut of “When It Comes Down” and Devi’s guitar instrumental “Canna Indica.”
But A Zillion Stars Overhead opens with “When It Comes Down (Jam),” a dreamy blues-rocker about a golden boy’s downfall that morphs into a blistering psychedelic jam caught live in the studio. “We just took off,” Devi says, “Jorgen and John were so locked into each other that, as the guitarist, I felt like an equestrian balancing astride two galloping horses. It was a blast!” Rob Clores (Black Crowes, Jesse Malin) added sweeping Hammond B-3 organ, and that’s former Spin Doctors guitarist Anthony Krizan singing backup.
The trippy lyric video for “When It Comes Down (Jam)” includes behind-the-scenes studio footage and photos.
Devi produced the EP and asked producer Rob Fraboni (Bob Dylan, Keith Richards) to add his proprietary RealFeel™ technology to the master. “It fills in ‘holes’ in digital sound to give it a velvety analog quality,” she explains.
A Zillion Stars Overhead will be released Thursday, April 23 by Devi’s True Nature Records and distributed by Digital Music Marketing (DMM), which handles blues/rock/jam labels like Landslide Records and artists ranging from Derek Trucks to Tinsley Ellis.
*Feature image by Suzanne Hilleary