Danielle Birrittella, a.k.a. Dia

Baroque-Pop Singer Dia’s New Single ‘Gambling Girl’ Inspired by Cher’s ‘Bang Bang’

Dia’s hauntingly beautiful new single “Gambling Girl” evokes a nostalgia for the melodies of 60s rock ‘n roll. More bitter than sweet in this case. It’s a psychedelic east-meets-American-southwest  ballad of the cowgirl, infused with modern influences.

On “Gambling Girl” Dia sings in a low, breathy intonation, resembling Courtney Love’s, played over a melody that could have been written by the Psychedelic Furs. At certain points, the song sounds like “Love My Way”. The tone of the guitar sounds like the amped Fender Stratocaster on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. The slow drum beat rocks steady under riffs of the ukulele.

Danielle Birrittella, a.k.a. Dia
Danielle Birrittella, a.k.a. Dia, releases new single “Gambling Girl” off the EP Tiny Ocean

 

The music is lyrically simple, conceptually sophisticated, traditionally melodic, and narratively romantic, about heartache and pain, much like western ballads in country music.

The song “Gambling Girl,” is from Dia’s debut EP Tiny Ocean, released on Manimal Records. Tiny Ocean features songs produced by Joey Waronker (Beck, REM, Atoms for Peace), Tim Carr (The Americans, HAIM) and Frankie Siragusa (theLAB). “Gambling Girl” is inspired by Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang Bang” (My Baby Shot Me Down), originally sung by Cher and written by Sonny Bono (Sonny & Cher). “Bang Bang” resurfaced on 60 other recordings since its release in 1966. Dia’s song has the same nostalgic feeling for childhood innocence lost with growing up and growing apart.

The sauntering video for “Gambling Girl” resembles a 1960s-syle American western cinematic scene played out in slow motion in open country under the setting sun. It stars a cowgirl and her cowboy, and two magnificent horses running across the rugged terrain against the backdrop of a mountain range.

The cowgirl seems empowered after being shot down by her cowboy. She is alone with the horses and she wears a striking, royal blue Native American suede outfit rather than the short, light summer dress she used to. She is smiling, without animosity, as she remembers her cowboy in his white hat.

“Covered in Light” is the first of the six songs on the digital album released on iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and other music sites accessible through Dia’s website. The song sets the mood for the entire album, one of dissonance and longing. Through the lyrics, this song also explores the idea of an abusive relationship with a long time love.

“Don’t you know, why I’m not free, 
the sky, the stars, they watch us scream. 
Why do you play, when you can’t see, 
this love you call, it’s killing me.”

On “Synchronized Swimming,” Dia captures a beach party movie sound, only without the happy. This song is reminiscent of Elvis’ Blue Hawaii soundtrack with undulating waves of stringed instruments, or a melancholy version of a Frankie and Annette movie circa 1963, with Little Stevie Wonder on bongos.

It’s the ukulele that creates this unique sound. The multidimensional Danielle Birrittella, also know as Dia, the singer for whom the music project is named – got a ukulele from her brother as a gift. She immediately started experimenting and writing songs for the instrument while siting on the floor of her bathroom – for its acoustic qualities, she says, and hasn’t looked back since.

The ukulele is an unusual choice for an opera-trained, experimental indie-folk/Baroque-pop artist and composer, but Birrittella produces some exceptional music on the tiny instrument, traditionally used for more lighthearted expression.

Dia’s richly textured vocals fuses with organic percussion, electric guitars, tiple (little guitar), cellos, drones (a sustained tone based on a particular frequency played throughout a piece, mostly in sacred music, on any of the four classes of instruments) and the ukulele to create a heartbreakingly beautiful, ethereal, other-worldly sound. She takes inspiration from an anonymous 10th Century Kafir song:

*”Since you love me and I love you
The rest matters not;
I will cut grass in the fields
And you will sell it for beasts.

Since you love me and I love you 
The rest matters not;
I will sow maize in the fields
And you will sell if for people.”

Dia believes  in “the idea of just total surrender to love, martyrdom for love is power,” she says.

The unknown poet from Kafiristan has left an impression on her. On “Tiny Ocean,” the title track, she expresses similar sentiments about love and its ordeal.

“Tie a knot around my tiny ocean,
hammer me to every wall you build
light me up when all the fields are empty.

Break my back with all the weight you carry,
lead me down a road where I can’t see.”

Dia’s “Tiny Ocean” is an achingly poetic piece of music. The lyrics are painful to listen to.

“I remember how you touched me, 
put me up against your body. 
You were never gonna hurt me, 
I was always yours for taking. 

Burn me with your brightness, 
watch me rise, weightless 
on the edge of worlds with you. 
I am freely falling in your shadow.

Tie a knot around my 
tiny ocean and I 
feel your arms around me still.

I remember how you touched me,
put me up against your body.
You were never gonna hurt me,
I was always yours for taking.”

On “Big Man” Dia mixes up a “California Dreamin‘” surf rock tonic, with a heavy swirling luau guitar groove, deep breathy vocals, and a  melody that leaves you with a washed-up-on-the-beach feeling.

Dia’s diverse musical influences lends to a richness of style that’s unlike any other. She is a native of New England who was raised on a Hindu ashram and grew up singing ceremonial ragas. The embellished style, improvisational techniques and discipline required  to succeed as an Indian classical music performer served her well as an opera singer and filters through on Tiny Ocean. She still composes operatic music, plays in a classical ensemble and teaches others techniques for performance art in Los Angeles. 

See her upcoming shows: 
Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird
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