Robert Deeble “Heart Like Feathers”
Deeble is one of those artists who think that they are Edward Hopper, when really they are more like Norman Rockwell. Darkness and alienation softened by cellos, by harmony vocals, real darkness, real alienation would be reflected right back; the harsh lights of the diner leave nowhere to hide.
These songs with their easily discernible melodies leave discursive spaces; comfort, respite from the world, Hopper’s Nighthawks are alone in public spaces, this music would knit them together and foster a sense of community and that was the job of Rockwell.
This takes nothing away from Deeble; his view isn’t apple pie and newspapers on the lawn, that’s not what I meant. ‘Eucharist’ shows him at his best, a subdued melody sketches the song in pencil, slowly it proceeds. Female vocals are added, the song continues to build, the religious theme solidifying as strings contrast with heavy drums (heaven and earth) the song is like a heady dark bloom. That’s the Rockwell - the constant return to the familiar, the community.
The songs are dark and tight, instruments don’t play with individual personality, and they are bent to the will of the song. Deeble is from Seattle, my memories of Seattle are of greyness, of skies that push down to the ground, this could explain the sound. The beautiful silver and black illustration on the printed CD sleeve also continues this theme. Everything is part of a whole even when the guitars do spark a little on ‘The Colors of Dying’, it is under thunderous percussion that broods over everything. You won’t find Rockwell painting this kind of crepuscular scene, there’s hardly a hint of sunshine.
What sliver there is appears on the closing ‘Sunflower’ (with Victoria Williams adding vocals) which does speak of hummingbirds and gardens; rain is a shower not a downpour, strings are pizzicato instead of sawed, the song offers a tinge of dawn, of hope and that’s something in short supply in the works of Hopper (in his prime).