Deep Sea Diver
Deep Sea Diver's Jessica Dobson (photo by Matt Wignall, PR)
Deep Sea Diver
High Beam/ATO Records
Deep Sea Diver is the musical outlet for singer, songwriter and guitarist Jessica Dobson. Originating in Seattle a little over a decade ago, Deep Sea Diver has ended a four-year silence with a third album, Impossible Weight. It arrives 11 years after the band’s debut EP and eight after their first album, History Speaks.
In the aftermath of the touring that supported the band’s second album, 2016’s Secrets, Deep Sea Diver went right to work on some new music. That’s when Dobson found herself in a very unpleasant headspace. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended," she explains in her web bio, "and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it.”
So, the band took a break while Dobson assessed her muse. One thing Dobson engaged herself in during this time was volunteering at a center for the homeless and drug addicted. “I spent a lot of time with the women who frequent (the facility), and it taught me a new depth of empathy,” she says. “They’re people who don’t have the luxury of going back to a home at the end of the day and hiding behind those four walls, so they’re sort of forced to be vulnerable with what their needs are. Talking with them and listening to them really freed me up to start writing about things I’d never written about before in my songs.”
In “Shattering The Hourglass,” Dobson addresses emotions she felt during the period when her friend, musician Richard Swift, was losing his battle to alcoholism. (Swift died on July 3, 2018 at the age of 41.) Interestingly, Dobson drew inspiration for the song “Wishing” from watching a film about Nina Simone.
On the album’s title track, she feeds off the talents of Sharon Van Etten, who she gets to share lead vocals with. Dobson’s expressive, elastic vocals are on full display on the emotive “Switchblade," while her abilities on guitar erupt in the album’s seven-minute centerpiece, “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid),” a song that Dobson says in her bio was partly inspired by Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh and "the collective trauma endured by women everywhere.”
Sonically, Impossible Weight spans a rich spectrum that stretches from the dreamlike opening song, “Shattering The Hourglass" to the dramatic pop of “Hurricane." There is also the dense synthesizer-packed “People Come People Go;" the danceable “Lightning Bolts;” the driving, pulsing rocker “Lights Out;” and the acoustic finale “Run Away With Me.”
In Deep Sea Diver, Dobson is accompanied by her husband, drummer Peter Mansen, as well as bassist Garrett Gue and guitarist and keyboardist Elliot Jackson. Impossible Weight turned out to be a more elaborate production than past Deep Sea Diver material as it was the first time Dobson had ever attempted producing herself. Actually, she shared those duties with Andy D. Park and, although she was a bit uneasy at first, she settled into the task. It allowed her to make the types of decisions that resulted in Impossible Weight becoming such a satisfying listen.
Impossible Weight addresses the concerns and fears that many folks experience in their lifetime, especially in today’s world. But Deep Sea Diver goes deeper in these new songs, as she addresses the issues, contemplates possibilities, and reaches conclusions. As a result, Impossible Weight serves as a clarion call pointing towards the maturation of Jessica Dobson and the bright future ahead for Deep Sea Diver.