Deep Sea Diver: In Black and White [video]
Deep Sea Diver ::: photo by Tyler Kalberg
Deep Sea Diver frontwoman Jessica Dobson is busy these days. On the night of our visit to her basement in North Seattle she was busy trying to juggle a schedule of growing commitments, possible press and practice dates in New York with the Shins the same week as Deep Sea Diver’s CD release. Combing through her calendar to see whether Deep Sea Diver might be available that second weekend in August for Doe Bay she says it’s too early to tell at this point in the year whether the Shins will be on the road then as well.
After a few years of cutting two records for a major label including working with Phil Ek, but with both efforts eventually being scrapped and up until now, the six songs on New Caves EP the only official songs under the Deep Sea Diver name; a proper full-length in the form of History Speaks has obviously been a long time coming for Dobson. With firm control of the entire process now, Dobson’s efforts escape the easy definition an obvious archetype might provide. Perhaps she’s constructing her own modern archetype. In past years intersecting careers with the likes of Beck, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Conor Oberst, and the Shins, one can see her gravitating toward similarly individually minded folks.
Rhythm section cohorts Peter Mansen on drums and John Raines on bass provide interesting grooves for Dobson to swagger over. In the nine songs on the LP Dobson also takes to the piano (or synth) just as often as using her guitar, and stuns with artfully constructed ballads-with-bite. The album’s title track is Bonnie all the way, saying so much without saying much at all. “The Green Line” first showcases the range of Dobson’s voice with piano and acoustic guitar basically on her own, singing with much melodic variation “This is your Har-mon-yyyyyyyyy” before it breaks into a fully arranged string section for the bridge. I just mentioned the slower tracks from History Speaks and have neglected to so far properly emphasize that Deep Sea Diver is a rock band, an intriguing one with a grasp of modern guitar tones and rhythm textures. If Dobson does fit a mold, it’s that of a rock n’ roller, and one looking to challenge your comfortable convictions nose-to-nose.
For this “In Black and White” session filmed in early February in their crowded corner of the basement, the band played a split of piano and guitar songs with a turn at the keys first for “NWO” and then at the guitar for “You Go Running,” their vaguely Caribbean “pop song” that I can’t stop moving to. Dobson’s record makes liberal use of the ‘verb and our sound-man extra-ordinare Chris Proff ran with that aesthetic for this session too.
Deep Sea Diver celebrates the release of History Speaks at Columbia City Theater in Seattle on Friday February 24th with Daniel G Harmann & The Trouble Starts and The Soft Hills. Further on in 2012 they’ll be opening the night for the Shins on a number of just announced dates.