Debbii Dawson Pens a Resounding First Chapter With 'Learning'
“Sometimes I never want to leave my house, oh I guess I'm learning to live even if it kills me.”
This is a PSA for the Boygenius—more specifically, Julien Baker—enthusiasts who wear Dr. Martens, have their ringtone set to the Electric Lady version of “Bags,” solely shop at Goodwill, probably cried when they saw the All Things Go festival lineup before realizing it was all the way across the country, and may or may not have arms decked out in patchwork tattoos: we have found a new country-folk-pop artist to add to your cottage-fairy-inspired playlists. Her name is Debbii Dawson, and she just released her debut EP, Learning.
Learning is Dawson’s first official introduction to the world, and it’s safe to say she’s left us with a more-than-positive impression. After being shut away from the outside—alone with her guitar and her thoughts—Dawson found the courage to leave home while letting us inside. Throughout five tracks, she takes us on this honest journey of “leaving” in both a physical and metaphorical sense, inviting the listener to hear her raw, vulnerable thoughts while re-discovering herself and the surrounding world in the process.
The journey to the outside begins with “Eulogy For Nobody,” where Dawson paints the scene between folky guitars and cascading harmonies. "I live my life in these four walls / Head full of dreams but I'm afraid to tell them all / I climb a staircase and carry all the dead weight / Just to fall, fall, fall," she sings. The simple strings let Dawson’s delicate vocals shine through as she admits that, finally, she is ready to wear her heart on her sleeve. In Dawson’s own words, “Eulogy For Nobody” is ‘the story of a non-story about a recovering recluse.’
Previously released single, “Even If It Kills Me,” is one of the EPs more “poppy” offerings, demonstrating Dawson’s range within her singing and songwriting capabilities. “Even If It Kills Me” is an anthem for anyone who has found themselves slowly emerging from a dark place, finding the will to open the front door and face this scary-but-beautiful world we live in. “Terrified” carries over the pop production, incorporating melodic keys, orchestral strings, and a swinging drum beat that takes us back to a 1950s high school dance, as Dawson belts about feeling too terrified to fall in love without understanding why.
Ironically, “Downer” is the most upbeat track on the project, and it’s equal parts catchy as it is clever. In “Downer,” Dawson steps back, takes a deep breath, and reminds herself that everything is going to be okay. If Kacey Musgraves’ “High Horse” had a best friend, “Downer” is what I imagine it’d sound like. It’s danceable, it’s funky, it’s got a groovy baseline; it’s country-pop at its finest. Dawson puts it best when she says, “Save your troubles for another day, Stop and smell the flowers baby, Don’t be such a downer, Debbii.”
The EP closes with “Ghosting Myself,” and it is the definition of finding the light at the end of the hypothetical tunnel we find ourselves stuck in from time to time. Through heartbreakingly relatable lyrics and effectively stripped-down instrumentation, Dawson writes a lullaby for the people who sometimes forget to come back to themselves. “Ghosting Myself” wraps up the project as gently as ever, leaving the listener at peace, ready to retreat to the comfort of their bedroom.
Learning is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Debbii Dawson, and we can’t wait to hear what’s next.
Listen to Learning below: