Nessa Celebrates the Power of Women and Nature

A listen to the Celtic-inspired, new album,  ‘Otherworld’

In a constantly changing world, Nessa, formed in 2015 and named for a Celtic goddess, believes in the steadfast power of women and nature.

The Ann Arbor Celtic-inspired world music group celebrates this compelling dyad on their enchanting, cinematic new album, “Otherworld,” which drops March 13. Nessa’s new 10-track album magically fuses traditional English and Scottish songs with modern world music arrangements, featuring several new hypnotic tunes to heal the soul. 

“I’m always inside causes, and so what in the world can I do to help where we are right now with the planet? I really prayed about it for a couple of days. It just came to me that I can give the gift of music, and I believe that it heals,” said Kelly McDermott, Nessa’s lead vocalist and a classically-trained flutist. 

Recording “Otherworld,” McDermott collaborates with husband Rob Crozier (bass, guitar, percussion and didgeridoo), Dan Palmer (guitar), Mike List (percussion), Rick Beamon (drums), Brian Brill (keys), Stefan Kukurugya (keys), David Mansfield (violin) and daughter Emma McDermott (vocals) to create an uplifting, and spiritual, sonic experience.

Nessa’s Kelly McDermott celebrates the power of women and nature on “Otherworld.” Photo courtesy of Kelly McDermott

Entering the ‘Otherworld’

The album’s atmospheric title track, a classical flute-centered instrumental, transports listeners to a serene Celtic world, inspiring thoughts about the hidden miracles and mysteries that surround us.

“I’ve been reading about how we’re going through a different dimension. The ancient Druids believed that it was right here, like The Mists of Avalon, on the other side of the trees. You don’t have to look up to the heavens to find the angels or God, they’re a foot away from you,” said McDermott, who composed the title track with co-producer Brill.

The title track is joined by a trio of traditional songs about creative, powerful women – “Sovay,” “Wraggle Taggle Gypsies” and “A Stitch in Time,” where, women assume male identities, experience freedom with gypsies and combat domestic violence. 

From ‘A Stitch in Time’ to ‘The Elemental Suite’

In January, Nessa released the feminist anthem, “A Stitch in Time,” as the first single from “Otherworld,” which highlights a woman who literally stitches her drunken, abusive husband in bed. A catchy rap from McDermott modernizes the track.

After “Stitch,” Nessa will release their second single, “Sovay,” February 7 via all streaming platforms. The band combines delicate acoustic guitar, light cymbal taps, deep synths and pulsating bass for a proggy feel on this traditional English tale in which a woman disguises herself as a man.

 “Otherworld” closes with “The Elemental Suite,” a mesmerizing four-part track that consists of prayers and meditations about the elements of nature. Running roughly half the album, “The Elemental Suite” celebrates the legacy of an Irish saint, the healing power of water, cultural dances for different seasons and festivals, and a prayer for the earth.

“My intention was when we perform to have a dialogue. I talk about Irish Gaelic, I talk about tradition,” said McDermott.  “It’s a bit of historical information, but there’s also banter. People say it’s an experience, and I do ask people to close their eyes and visualize healing for the earth.”

Benefit Concert Series – Ozone House
Show 7 pm | Saturday, February 15
First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, 1432 Washtenaw Ave.

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