Debórah Bond calls her new album 'Compass 1' the 'most honest and raw' music she's created

Debórah Bond is New Haven native who recently released a new album.

Debórah Bond is New Haven native who recently released a new album.

LeRoy Armstead / Contributed photo

Born and raised in the Newhallville neighborhood of New Haven, Debórah Bond (pronounced Deh-bore-ahh, not Deb-bra) left to go to Washington, D.C. at age 17 to attend American University. She’s still there, but her family is still in Connecticut, so she considers it her home.

Long part of the indie-soul and R&B music scene, it’s been 10 years since her last album — a lifetime in the music business, where attention spans are short. Going through struggles and life changes in the last few years, Bond finished off 2019 working on a plan to make a her third album.

Then the pandemic hit. Far from being thwarted, Bond found that the lockdown helped her achieve her dream of resetting herself on her journey in the music world.

“The pandemic really gave me a kick in the pants to focus, because I had so much downtime,” Bond said. “I lost all of my gigs in the matter of a week.”

What’s a musician to do? Make a new album, even if that means recording it in her living room.

Bond’s new album — aptly titled “Compass 1” — was released on March 5. Both the album and her first single, “Radio,” reflect her life’s journey in a manner that few artists dare to attempt.

Instead of the highly polished sound and look of her last album, “Madam Palindrome,” Bond said she wanted to be raw and honest with audiences. “As an independent artist, you have to pretend that you have a rock-star budget,” she said. “Everything has to sound just as good as Beyoncé or whomever, but we do not have those resources.”

With her previous band, Bond said they’d work hard to make everything sound polished. On the cover of “Madam Palindrome,” she’s dressed in a fancy gown with her hair up in a bun, looking very princess-like.

“With this record, I wanted to display the rawness and the imperfections and the toughness of my life on many levels,” Bond said. “This is the most honest and raw presentation of art that I’ve ever created.”

Bond already had decent recording equipment, which she owned to record jingles; she bought even more during the lockdown. Bond recorded the album in her living room. Other artists added parts from their homes. “I can’t really believe when I listen to it that it was all done in people’s homes,” she said. “It sounds like we were together and practicing so it really showed me I should trust myself a bit more.”

The album’s title — “Compass 1,” a first volume of sorts — is a fitting metaphor for her life’s journey.

In her 40s, coming off a longtime relationship and experiencing some struggles in her career, Bond said the album is also about finding people and places supportive of her music. With everyone experiencing hardships during the pandemic, she felt it was important not to show a curated Instagram-worthy picture of her life but to show her gritty human side.

A “natural wanderer” always on a quest, Bond said the title holds several meanings for her, among them a desire to chart a new course musically and to use her inner compass to lead her to new collaborators.

“I decided to leave my longtime band and venture out on my own to a new musical place,” Bond said. “I had moments of feeling a bit lost and feeling like, ‘How do I find my way?’ The ‘compass’ is also about finding my way to whoever could show me that support.”

Describing the last four years as humbling, heavy and eye-opening, Bond has always written music that speaks to her life experiences, but perhaps none more so than with “Compass 1.”

In the process, she also found the album sums up not only the moments of feeling lost, but also trusting herself and knowing the journey can be healing. The end result came out rawer than she initially hoped.

“What made it so much more raw was the way it was recorded, even more than what I was saying,” Bond said. “I had made a decision to let the message be about where I was in this particular moment. I decided to not overthink the vocals: if I recorded something and there was a note that was a little scratchy, I decided to trust my instincts and to let it be and not nitpick and overthink.”

Andrea Valluzzo is a freelance writer.