Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Jessica Dobson is a woman who sounds as if she's known how to make fire since before she could say it, or spell it, or even knew that it could make you dinner, homeless or feel close to someone else. She is a woman who plays with fire, talks to it and interprets all of its sinewy movements and its carousing with the flammables, taking over wooden things with crackling kisses and dominance. She loves on it, surrounds herself with the flames that fan and break off as they reach out, retreating back to the epicenter, where they can be modeled into something bigger for another charge out. She puts these heated incisors to work in the music she makes as Deep Sea Diver, a project that has taken years and years to find momentum following some disgruntled time as a major label project-to-be that just sat stagnant and inactive. Dobson, as a songwriter, shows the kind of incredible refinement of someone twice her age, as well as a way with subjects that makes it seem as if she approaches them from dozens of different sets of eyes and minds, never leaving the story to an easy parable or sentiment. She comes from a land that her friends in Delta Spirit and buddy Conor Oberst also come from, where there's both ordinary glory spilling out of every living thing and person, capable of being used for the right reasons and to be further expressed and utilized, but there are shackles and weights keeping those same folks subdued, at least most of the time. There's a disenchantment factor at play through the characters that Dobson brings to life in the new songs she's compiled for her first official, self-released EP and yet these qualities and the extent of her deft lyrical prowess (which she doubles with her superbly intense and smoky guitar work) come alive even more on those newer songs that she's got waiting for proper recording. The disenchantment is no deterrent for the most important feelings of getting intimate with being swept away by mankind's many splendors and those of its natural surroundings, even if there's some sifting through ashes to get to them in certain instances. For every lump of coal, there is an even number of diamonds in Dobson's world, it's just that the valuables often take 10 times the work to enjoy while the excrement seems to be giving most everything an upholstered look and a common stink. The aggravations that arrive in fighting to get somewhere further away from nowhere are weighty in Deep Sea Diver songs, though the prevailing message seems to be that the fires you create could be your lamplights through the darkness, that if you've built a strong enough soul, it will lead you toward the exits, away from the towns made up of the "lepers drinking from the same cup," which may also mean that there's fear of the cup being passed to her lips. "Why Must A Man Change?" stems from the frustration of having to deal with an unwillingness to be anything but what's always been, to just fall into the ease of historical compliance even if that means unhappiness and ignorance. Dobson's distemper for lives without variance, grounded to the unmoving principles that make for unmotivated sad sacks come through when she almost hisses, "You whisper to yourself, "Why must a man change his ways?" and in another song on the session, singing, "Since you are a praying man, well, I suggest we ask to stop the bleeding." Her strengths in this bluesy, Thom Yorke-ish way of suggesting that others/she should not settle for drab standards of life make Dobson a burn just waiting to catch.