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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 3, “Orion,” an otherworldly call to a far-off lover, inspired by a conversation the singer imagined between a mermaid and an astronaut. As with all of Carolyn Malachi’s songs, it’s hard to tag “Orion” with a genre: It contains spoken word, R&B, bits of electronica, and tribal influences from her recent trip to South Africa. Men and women have responded differently to the cut, the singer says: “I think women like because it’s like sistas doing it for themselves. I think guys like it because they hear a strong, beautiful woman, and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to trust you.’”

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MUSICAL MOTIVATION: One may inhabit the ocean and the other the skies, but Malachi’s characters deal with recognizable tensions. “The mermaid is telling the astronaut that she needs him to meet her half way,” says Malachi. “She’s giving him an ultimatum: ‘Either you meet me half way, or we don’t need to continue.’” Now that she’s in her mid-20s, Malachi is thinking more about life changes. “A lot of girls my age don’t want to be an old maid, and they end up with a husband and a house and a dog and 2.5 kids,” she says. “I wanted to bring something different to the table.”

JAZZ BABY: Malachi isn’t the first musical member of her family. Her great-grandfather, John Malachi, was a legendary jazz pianist in D.C. “There was a recording he did at Howard a number of years ago I’ve been listening to,” she says. “He, too, was comfortable being different, and it’s giving me the courage to pursue my music the way I want to.” She says her Sept. 23 performances at Bohemian Caverns will be tributes to her relative.