Home Hear Now Hear This: Malena Cadiz | Hellbent & Moonbound

Now Hear This: Malena Cadiz | Hellbent & Moonbound

The L.A. singer-songwriter swerves up sweet slices of life on her fourth full-length.

Malena Cadiz is nothing short of heaven-sent on her subtle, supple and superb new album Hellbent & Moonbound — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

On her fourth full-length, the L.A. singer-songwriter is a lady of the canyon waylaid at a suburban strip mall, acutely aware of how romance shines through even in moments of grit and desolation. There’s something Joan Didion-esque about Cadiz’s storytelling as she crafts deeply personal vignettes that reveal greater narratives about the world we live in.

Blending folk-pop simplicity with understated orchestral flourishes and stylish electronic textures — and topped with literary lyrics and intimate vocals that glide seamlessly from a spider-webby whisper to a tangy drawl to a girlish lullaby — the 10 songs on her Hellbent & Moonbound are ready and waiting to be slipped into a mixtape next to Norah Jones, Cat Power, Phoebe Bridgers and Feist. Her personal tales are full of wit and vulnerability, capturing the strange beauty and humor of day-to-day life.

And what a life’s it’s been: In the seven years since her last album, Cadiz has uprooted her life, moved across the country, became a mother, juggled odd jobs, and spent the past few years going inward. “I found solace in being creative,” she says. “I’d gone through so many transitions — it was a moment to be still and examine who and how I wanted to be, letting go of anything that wasn’t serving me, and leaning into what was… it’s been a long marinating process.”

Photo by Mikael Kennedy.

Precisely because of that she’s gained a rich perspective on how changes, big and small, help us to grow into amore self-assured version of ourselves. “Growing up a second-generation Filipino-American, I bounced between living with my mom in Michigan and my dad in Singapore. Looking for a sense of belonging has always been a part of my work,” says Cadiz. “It’s an ongoing journey, but I feel like — for the moment — I’ve found it; with my community, my family, and within myself.”

Produced by Andrew Lappin (L’Rain, Madison McFerrin, Orville Peck) at WaxLTD, Hellbent & Moonbound is truly a community affair featuring some of L.A.’s most sought-after studio musicians, including Jason Abraham Roberts (Norah Jones, Bedouine), Leeann Skoda (Noah Cyrus, Aimee Mann), Matt Musty (Grace Potter, Train), Pat Kelly (Perfume Genius, St. Vincent), Sam Kauffman-Skloff (Angel Olsen, St. Vincent), and composer Bryan Senti (Feist).

To celebrate the album, Cadiz will host a record release show at Gold-Diggers in East Hollywood on Sunday, Dec. 3. She’ll be joined by a number of the musicians from the sessions. Very special guest Clara-Nova opens.

Listen to Hellbent & Moonbound below while you read Malena Cadiz’s track-by-track notes, then head over to her website and Instagram.


Photo by Mikael Kennedy.

Hellbent & Moonbound Song-By-Song

1 | Museum Shoes — “Letting go of others expectations of what I should be – inspired by walking around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC (with shoes that click on the marble floors just right 🙂 References to the Temple of Dendur & the streets around the Met. I was listening to lots of Nick Drake when I wrote this, and got into experimenting with the BEBEBE tuning he often used.”

2 | Shatter — “Longing to know the center and feel the truth of things .. as in the subjective “truth” of what feels aligned for each of us. Verse 1: “You say you’re making changes and you wave your hands / A watercolor wave, we disappear like sand” – about being pulled apart & verse 2 I was remembering traveling alone – and having the feeling of being held by a kind of truth that we’re all connected. “When I was just a stranger and I fell real soft into the open arms of every town I crossed / And there were oranges golden on every branch / All of those other lives caught in the same slow dance.”

3 | Whatever You Need — “Taking responsibility for self and caring for a loved one, I like to think of this as a grown-up love song, with vignettes from different moments in my romantic relationship, learning how to listen deeply and really be there for someone else. I started writing this in Laura Veirs’ songwriting workshop.”

4 | The Real Thing — “Ready to really commit to a partnership, to move and evolve together through life with similar values & intentions. I mention my husband’s tattoo of a hand with the fingers crossed, a little prayer summarized in the bridge “Let us be lucky, let us not sink back and get lost.”

5 | My Kind Of Thief — “Longing to be free & loose in the world — I like to imagine this one as an alter ego Bonnie & Clyde or Raymond Chandler type character, on the lam, unbeholden to any societal values. Drinking cocktails in a seaside motel, with other drifters and grifters — like the girl at the bar who says she’ll read my cards if I buy her a drink.”

6 | Getting By — “The lows and the highs of life are all part of the ride, and moving through them with the person you love is part of life’s beauty. I wrote one version of this and Andrew challenged me to make it less “twee” — I so appreciated this honest feedback and it’s become one of my favorite songs on the record. We had Lara Somogyi play harp on this one and I love how it elevates the unglamorous, scrappy stories of day to day life — lying on the linoleum floor of my kitchen after a long waitressing shift, buying fancy foods with EBT, getting bit by a chihuahua, voicing the feeling that “this isn’t where I thought I’d be” in life.”

7 | Hellbent & Moonbound — “Not giving up, doubling down on my own dreams & life path — inspired by West African guitar playing on this one and asked Prince Diabaté to play kora on it. He tracked his part in a Toulouse studio while Andrew & I tuned in on whatsapp from L.A. He’s an amazing artist who’s now building a school to preserve the teaching of traditional African instruments in Guinea, West Africa.”

8 | Easy —”Wrote this when I was feeling ragged and far from myself — trying to learn to let go and be more present in the moment. I brought it to my co-writer David Turbeville and we really honed in on that quiet at the end of the day — where you can let go of whatever you did or didn’t accomplish, whatever you succeeded or failed at and surrender to the quiet.”

9 | Call It A Night — “Trusting my own path & timeline — started this one in a moment of self-doubt, feeling like I wasn’t where I was “supposed to be” at that point in my life. It’s about surrendering control, doing the best you can do and then letting go.”

10 | Child Again — “On memory, growing old, reincarnation — Inspired by a party in rural Vermont after a festival we’d played. The immediacy of a party with all our friends & walking through the moonlit snow thinking about aging and mortality. I started this one in Molly Sarlés’ songwriting workshop through School of Song. We tracked this at Bryan Senti’s studio with him on felt piano and kept the vocal really dry and raw. I love how the album ends on this bare, vulnerable note.”

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