Maria BC’s “Devil’s Rain” finds comfort in contradictions

By Edyth Moldow

Picture of Maria Bobbitt-Chertock ’19.5
Maria Bobbitt-Chertock ’19.5

Are you looking for an intimate, introspective moment of relaxation and recuperation after a long week of studying? What could be better than putting a pair of headphones in, walking out into a fading Middlebury sunset and letting music wash away the triumphs and tribulations of the week? 

“Devil’s Rain” is a new alternative album by New York-based Maria Bobbitt-Chertock ’19.5 — who goes by the stage name Maria BC and uses they/them pronouns. This five-track album is as calming as it is empowering, with songs centered around its theme of highlighting juxtapositions. Maria BC pushes the idea that there is always darkness in light just as there is light in the dark, noting moments of sadness in happy relationships, nostalgia in progression and feelings of worthlessness in self-confidence. 

The purposeful contrasts begin with the album title, named after a popular folk tale. “Devil’s rain” refers to a Southern saying about sunshowers: when sunshine and rain occur simultaneously. This sunshower is believed to be the devil beating his wife. Their songs feature similar themes of apparent, including waking dreams, the touch of the untouchable (intangible spirits), a chorus of one and rain without any clouds. 

Throughout the album, each song blends into the next. A mellow beat and the murmur of Maria’s soothing and ethereal voice carry across each track. “Devil’s Rain” begins with the titular track, which sings softly of a summer day the sun “cradling” Maria. This first song sounds like waves ebbing and flowing to the sound of their lullaby-like humming in their soft and breathy voice. The electric guitar in minor chord progressions accents the slow on-tempo beat, echoing off the walls of your mind as if in a tunnel or walking on an abandoned beach.  It is almost as if we ourselves are experiencing the sun and rain in this uplifting, peaceful track. 

The album then shifts to a song called “The One I’ll Ask,” a ballad about finding oneself. Making their vocals sound distant, Maria uses vebratto in their voice to mirror the increased prominence of the electric guitar. This traditional and religious sounding song speaks of the “sun stepping in” to relieve Maria, adding light to their moment of sadness. The darker undertones of the music juxtapose the higher pitch and lightness in their voice, which further mimics their message of opposition just under the surface. 

 “Unmaker” begins with a beat that sounds like a ticking clock and is coupled with religious undertones in Maria’s reverberating choir-like voice. You feel as if you are sitting in the back of a church with floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows, taking in the grandeur of its acoustics.

In “Adelaide,” we listen to Maria speak to their lover about their emotions: the fear of being vulnerable and of failure, the sadness that occurs when opportunities slip away and the disappointment felt when one can’t get what they need from a relationship. We see this when Maria pauses before saying “I don’t want to tell you this here,” likely guarding the “you” from the difficult news of breakup. They sing with a voice that grows higher and softer as the truth of their inevitable ending becomes clear. Finding comfort in discomfort is the message Maria BC dictates to us; it is possible to grow in unexpected places, like a dark, dank alleyway. 

“The Deal” uses repetition, and an echoey, duplicated voice (similar to that in “Unmaker”) to sing of heartbreak. We hear a slow breakdown of amplifier noise interference with the electric guitar, and the album cuts out abruptly at the height of its distortion to let us stew in our emotions. Maria BC highlights our tendency to shut out what we don’t wish to accept when they say “I don’t want to know anymore,” and that it is time to “lean another way,” adjust accordingly, as the guitar breaks into amplifier static. 

“Devil’s Rain” reminds us that we exist in a balance of opposites — between joy and grief, love and heartbreak, emptiness and fulfillment. The range in their voice from soft waltzing to loud outbursts, mirrored by the guitar, makes us feel the way they do. We are transported to their world of sun breaking through the rain, difficult vulnerability and acceptance of our inability to fully process emotion.. Music like “Devil’s Rain” comforts us amidst the contradictions we experience in our own lives, so tap into soulful music like Maria BC’s for solace in paradox.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly used incorrect pronouns to refer to Maria BC, who uses they/them pronouns. This error has been corrected.