On her debut album This Time, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Donna Missal shows the elegant collision of elements at play in her music: a poet’s command of tone, a soul singer’s boundless intensity, a bedroom musician’s willful embracing of intimacy and experimentation. Along with channeling the raw passion she first ignited by playing in rock bands in her homeland of New Jersey, This Time expands on the melodic ingenuity displayed in recent singles like “Driving” and “Thrills.” Above all the album is a testament to the sheer force of Missal’s voice, a dynamic but delicate instrument that achieves a beautifully nuanced expression even as she belts her heart out.
With its title taken from a track Missal co-wrote with her frequent collaborator Sharon Van Etten, This Time is an uncompromisingly honest look at living entirely on your own terms. “I’ve spent most of my life being hyper-focused on time, which I think is something that a lot of women obsess over,” says Missal. “We’re in such a rush to make things happen, when really we should take the time to figure out what we actually want out of life. And even though it’s so fucking hard to have that kind of patience, I think it’s so important to believe in yourself enough to let things develop in a way that feels right to you.”
Produced by Tim Anderson (Solange, BANKS, Halsey), This Time matches that defiant spirit with a sound inspired by the rule-bending sensibilities of mixtape culture. Blending elements of soul and hip-hop and rock-and-roll, Missal shaped This Time’s sonic landscape partly by laying live recordings down on tape, then sampling those recordings to imbue her songs with a fresh yet timeless energy. Much of that live recording took place at the iconic Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, with the sessions headed up by Missal and Nate Mercereau (a musician known for his work with Leon Bridges). “I really wanted this album to reference my history of playing in bands,” Missal points out. “It’s all these very pure, talented musicians playing together in a room, but then we took that and sampled it and altered in a way that creates something totally new.”
Having signed her deal with Harvest Records in early 2018, Missal has also recently appeared as a featured artist on Macklemore’s GEMINI, written songs for the Netflix original series The Get Down, and supported K.Flay at a pair of sold-out shows. And with the release of This Time, one of her greatest hopes is for the album to impart the same sense of self-discovery that informed its creation. “This isn’t a record about love and loss and relationships,” Missal says. “It’s about taking chances for yourself, figuring out who you are and really standing behind that. I made a point of putting myself out there as a real person navigating this life at this moment in time, because I want to do whatever I can as an artist to help people feel more confident in navigating their own lives. I’d love for the listener to receive the message that you can take your time to learn and love yourself. That’s been the most important discovery that I want to share with this album.”