Deb Montgomery’s new EP All the Water takes a step forward into the alt-rock/folk-rock foray, and brings with it a record that ebbs and flows.
Seattle artists are renowned for their creative freedom, and records from there always feel that little bit different from other American cities. I don’t know whether it’s the atmosphere or something to do with the live scene, but a lot of the time they seem that one step ahead of the curve, or more willing to introduce change in their music. This is true of Deb Montgomery, as on new EP All the Water, with the help of producer Mikel Perkins, they manage to craft a heavier record with electric guitar that although keeps her signature sound intact, it accentuates the music at the same time.
EP opener All The Water instantly washes over you with interesting drums fading in and out, urging the track forward like a gently flowing stream. This ‘stream’ flows throughout as the music gains momentum, before once again trickling along, before the current once again strengthens with grit and determination that’s picked up in Montgomery’s vocals and lyrics: “if you can sail, then walk on water with me now”. It’s the perfect song title for the way the track develops, with strong and turgid sections that handover to the calm and solace in the blink of an eye.
Dig for Diamonds once again has the EP’s penchant for heavy drums front and centre, but it’s Montgomery’s vocals and melody structure that impress most on this track. You can hear The Cranberries in there somewhere, as once again the artist shows off the ease in which she can switch from grit and sheer mindedness one minute, to vulnerability and self reflection the next. Hold On also relies heavily on this structure, but with more of an 80s melody, whereas Wake Me’s slow, almost marching beat benefits from a tried and tested indie-rock vibe. Although nowhere near as dark, sombre and heavy, the fellow Seattle-based band Nirvana can be heard in the structure of this track, showing that certain musical qualities are embedded into the city’s music. The build up is the strength, with the production amplifying the track to give it more heart.
Album closer Mend is a soft and sultry effort with gentle guitar that saunters along at a slow pace. Its interesting chord changes work well against the sporadic vocals and the live feel pays off as a pretty way to finish the EP.
Based on the fact All The Water is an EP, Montgomery has stuck to the same idea throughout to keep it tight and tailored. It was brave for the artist to try out a heavier sound, and it’s really helped her to stamp authority on the sound, and take things to the next level. Although this works well, it would be nice to see what the artist has to offer in a broader range. This will hopefully be explored on her next full album because Montgomery definitely has something here that would benefit from a longer running time.
By Jamie Parmenter