released 24 February 2012
Recorded by Matt Wignall
Additional recording by Luke Vander Pol
Mixed by Luke Vander Pol
Mastered by TW Walsh
*vinyl mastered by Paul Gold
I looked for the ship early this morning. Upon first sight it grabbed me with both hands. The vessel survived the weekend woes and walked ashore with sea legs. The three person crew introduced themselves as “Deep Sea Diver“. Their explorations proved to be worthy as they unveil a treasure chest of fantastic sounds coined “History Speaks“. Jessica Dobson has something in her as a songwriter. She exudes a fragile confidence in her craft of creating. Many of us watched her cut her teeth with the likes of The Shins, Beck and Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a guitarist. I believe Dobson should be described as a ‘melodist”. I don’t even know if that word exists but I’m running with it. With the addition of Peter Mansen on drums and John Raines on bass, DSD have created a beautifully constructed album shifting from clever guitar pop to ballads that sink into your heart.
The records opens with “Ships”. A nice preview of dynamic pop sense the band pays ode to. Clean choppy guitar runs showcases Dobson’s coy playing style and she’s very much on point with a strong vocal presence. “Weekend Wars” would fit on any Shins or Spoon record with cool volleys between piano chords and clean verby guitar. “NWO” features the solid rhythm of Peter Mansen and John Raines. I especially love the middle-end section of this tune as Raines adds distortion to the bass that beats ups the militant Mansen drumming while little guitar shrieks peek through the cracks.
“You Go Running” shows Dobson’s flirty side starting off with a neat little guitar line and a chuckle or two almost Gwen-Stefanish. Lots of stops and starts, guitar amp hum, maracas and formidable songwriting.
The production of “History Speaks” falls in with the ranks of later Spoon or Shin records. “Keep It Moving” certainly has strong ties to The Shins. Mercer himself would be proud of the outcome. The proud traditional piano sounds nestle up with a distantly mixed driving guitar sound. I hear all kinds of cool nuances in this record. Whispering to myself about squeaky piano pedals and fantastic bass guitar sound. Along with seamless vocal harmonies that seem to be picked out of early Mercury Rev records. Peter Mansen clearly cares about the outcome. His playing provides a sonic palette for Dobson. More importantly he knows when to hide and come out when the others seek.
It’s important to think about what works when creating something. Dobson, Mansen and Raines are detailed oriented in this regard. Songs require melody and a human footprint to make you high. When I close my eyes to tunes like “Tracks of a Green Line” and “History Speaks” I feel like I’m in a rustic open aired home with perfect temperatures. Just cool enough to wear your favorite guitar sound. I want to watch Dobson sing standing on a wooden floor with a black canvas swallowing her into the stars. The string pumping chills come when the falsetto lyric “this is your harmony”, builds into a deep woods breeze upon the nape of your neck. I’m a huge early Supertramp fan so this one got me big time. It was obviously in her and had to come out. She is so alone in this song. The vulnerability of her message is beautifully expressed. Listen below.
“History Speaks” ends with “History Speaks”…..an ominous instrument selection with a soft harpsichord throughout paired with clean guitars with memory men on her back. This tune is an encore track. Probably why it ends the record. I visualize Jessica Dobson standing on the back of a Swedish Vasa leaving port as the moon casts diamond-white glistening shadows off the ocean. She seems intensely soft as she sings “into your arms I will surrender…..” mainly because one can rest with hope. Deep Sea Diver has delivered something special upon us. A record we all can appreciate for being honest, bold and beautiful at the same time.
I will be conducting a phone interview with the band this week. Look for the full audio interview soon.
Sealed In Wax,
Rob Eldridge, Writer and Editor PMM