There’s something completely arresting about seeing Jessica Dobson live. The music she makes as Deep Sea Diver, aided by drummer Peter Mansen (who happens to be her husband) and a rotating cast of friends, is smart, sassy, and wildly danceable. Then there’s her vocal range, which in several songs begins at a creeping falsetto in the opening notes and builds to a feral rock growl. Dobson’s stage presence is dynamic, too: At any given moment, the spunky musician can be seen tapping keys, wrangling the guitar, or shaking the tambourine, all while charming the shit out of everyone in the room with those mesmerizing vocals.
Friday, December 20. With Bryan John Appleby. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, neumos.com. 8 p.m. $12 adv. 21 and over.
It’s Dobson’s undeniable charisma that makes it unfathomable that she once struggled as a solo artist, held in limbo by a number of record labels. But these struggles didn’t contain her for long. The axewoman was recently hand-picked to play guitar on tour with a bunch of bands (little-known groups like Beck, Spoon, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and last fall she was invited to join the latest incarnation of the Shins, where she honed her monster musical skills even further.
Finding success with her own group was inevitable. Deep Sea Diver is exact. Nothing is messy or out of place—something that likely has as much to do with the members’ pure musicianship as with Dobson’s very precise vision for the band.
“As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I feel the fear in your hollow spine is erect,” she hisses on “NWO.” Instantly you feel the emotion in her voice, the pain, anguish, and electricity. The messages delivered through her lyrics are often similarly dark and winding, yet there’s also a sense of redemption, some light at the end of the tunnel. This juxtaposition, paired with her throaty vocals, results in an experience that’s simultaneously brash and soothing.
Deep Sea Diver has spent the majority of the past year touring its ass off in support of its debut 2012 release, History Speaks, and writing new material along the way. This show, the biggest it’s played in Seattle in some time, is sure to be another vibes-filled dance explosion. We hope to get a sneak peak at some of those new tunes as well. Without question, Dobson will own the stage.