March is a big month for Seattleite Jessica Dobson. She’s the new guitarist for the Shins and hype abounds for the band’s first release since 2007, Port of Morrow, which drops at the end of the month. But Port of Morrow is going to have a hard time measuring up to History Speaks, the first LP by Dobson’s band Deep Sea Diver, just released last Friday.
This isn’t the type of indie rock that’s littered with frivolous guitar bends or buried in reverb. Everything is tight, purposeful—a pop-rock Hemingway story. There’s a precision to the production that ties together an otherwise diverse sound. “Ships” kicks off the album with a coy burst of nautical-themed rock, touching on love lost with metaphors of ships adrift at sea. The playful “You Go Running” calls to mind calypso grooves and ‘80s Latin pop (complete with maracas). “Tracks of the Green Line” is the type of piano ballad some down-on-her-luck crooner would play in a near-empty lounge in a lonely desert town.
Though Dobson is anything but down on her luck right now, her ethereal vocals lend a sad, whiskey-soaked sadness to the ballads. While she stars both on guitar and piano, the rhythm section of Peter Mansen (drums) and John Raines (bass) isn’t shabby either, providing punch on the up-tempo tracks.
While the world waits for that other Dobson album, we can’t wait to see what’s next for the quickly ascending Deep Sea Diver. Until then we’ll just have to keep History Speaks on repeat.