Another great songwriter is setting her hands to a new project, and we have the honor of sharing one of the songs with you here, exclusively on the blog. Teressa Mahoney is making an album called Disillusions—she’s teaming up with Lori Chaffer (of Waterdeep) to do it, and what they’ve made so far is striking and true.
Teressa uses songs to tell stories, and the overarching story of Disillusions is one of skin-shedding, major life change, and spiritual deconstruction: both the crisis that is often at the heart of these monumental turning points and the rebirth that emerges from the rubble. In her Kickstarter video, Teressa shares her hope that this album would take the hand of those walking through such painful moments and simply say, “You are not alone.”
All the songs sound pristine, but one of them really stopped us in our tracks. It’s not a lead single of a song—it’s more of a heavy-hitting ballad.
“Emma” tells the story of someone who has endured abuse in a religious environment and is left to sort through what is true and what isn’t. This song shows a depth of craft in both Teressa’s songwriting and in Lori’s production that is truly a gift, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it with you. Here are a few words from Teressa about its backstory:
When I was a child, I had a friend who was abused. I knew something was wrong because the kids were all taken out of the home, but my parents shielded me from the specifics. Many years later, my friend wrote a memoir about her childhood. When I read it, I was struck by how very stuck she was. Her family was complicit in the abuse, and her father was a prominent member of their church, which made it nearly impossible for her to reach out to anyone there. I kept thinking about how when we grow up, we tend to think of our own experience as normal and how, within that context, sometimes wrong things can seem right. It can take a lot to wake us up and get us to question whether there might be a different way of existing. In the journey to health, the importance of questioning cannot be overstated. —Teressa Mahoney
She said, “He hurt me with his hands” And all her colors turned to gray She was too young to understand And she loved him anyway
She said his guilt had never shown Singing hymns or saying grace She kept his secret like it was her own And he kept a smile on his face
The smoke and the mirrors are blinding Yeah, it’s all part of the show Something inside her is fighting Is this not love?
She said, “They wounded me with words” The glass was stained, the light was scattered They said, “Love forgives all hurts” As if the hurting never mattered
The smoke and the mirrors are blinding Yeah, it’s all part of the show Something inside her is finding This is not love This is not, this is not not love
She says, “I can’t stay here in decay Walk around mostly dead all day I see now that this was never okay And now I can see that their power Is waning by the hour I can’t stay this kind of crazy”
The smoke and the mirrors are blinding But the cracks have started to show She says, “I don’t know what I do believe, But I know what I don’t”