Hannia Cheng gently coaxes you and themselves to take a deep breath and take your foot off the gas on Linen & Denim.
Lately, I’ve been reading a bunch of books that encourage readers to slow down. In one of my most recent reads, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, author Katherine May writes: “Doing those deeply unfashionable things – slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting – is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.”
On Linen & Denim, the debut EP from Hannia Cheng, a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist and co-founder of the community arts space, Tea Base, Cheng likewise advocates for kindness and slowing down. Across three measured R&B tracks, Cheng gently coaxes you and themselves to take a deep breath and take your foot off the gas. On “Left Handed,” they speak of the endless, dizzying doom scroll we all seem to fall victim to — “Going nowhere fast on the super information highway” — but then they place their phone face down, sits back, and reflects on their relationships with themselves and others. On the following track, “Slow Down,” Cheng repeats the words of their mother, who says, “You gotta slow down, grow up, and move out, won’t always be around,” and they pointedly elongate the words “slow,” “grow,” and “move.” About Linen & Denim, Cheng writes on Bandcamp: “It reaffirmed that healing is complicated and definitely not linear.”
To close Linen & Denim Cheng seemingly gatherers the wisdom they have gained through their own period of reflection and relays it to you: “Remember to stay tender”; “Don’t be afraid to try again. Don’t be afraid to cry,” they sing. In a wonderfully playful moment, Cheng smoothly transitions from their balmy singing voice to a confidently rapped verse – “No, I’m not mother fucking Ellen DeGeneres because I’m way too generous!” – and back.
Next time you feel yourself being swept up in the tow of a hectic schedule, throw on Linen & Denim and remember to take it easy.