It’s safe to say that I’ve waited eight years for this. Daphne Loves Derby has been one of my favorite bands for many years, but after their last release in 2007, the members have been relatively quiet as they moved on to different lives, putting music to the side with the odd release here and there. A week ago, Jason Call, DLD’s primary bassist, discreetly released his sophomore solo album. Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with much of Call’s other side projects since his original solo album six years ago, but Mariner reminded me of just how much I’ve missed.
Call’s original solo album was satisfying, but it felt incomplete and lonely. Mariner is a full album that ebbs and flows over a sense of dreamlike self-discovery in crashing waves of positive energy. Many of the songs were written after Call left the touring music industry and traveled to Peru for two years, and the theme of journeying and the accompanying wonderment permeate the album. The concept is defined in the title track, which contains a single lyrical line to guide the way; “There is a point late in the night / Where I just can’t help but think / How can I brave such ghostly seas / With just stars to guide the way”?
For me, the record balances on a nostalgic style that feels like it fell out of 2006, a personal loving quirk I have for DLD that has felt absent from music for several years. There is a craftsmanship to Mariner to help it feel like a labor of love. Tinges of amateurism brush over the production that allows each instrument to stand out perfectly when its time arrives. Call has added enough new elements to his music to peek into variant genres like chiptune and dizzyingly wonderful percussion.
Mariner is incredibly uplifting in a religious sense that shines a light on love, friendship and finding your place within the universe as a whole. It’s hard not to become wrapped up in the positivity that radiates from each lyric and the upbeat melodies. The second song, “Avion”, helps establish the concept as Call sings, “I’ve been blessed / And given much / I cannot bear to hide this love”.
There is a familiarity to Mariner that fans of DLD will recognize (“Say Hello!”, “The Love We Lost”) and Call’s vocals trace a safe croon that works well with the music, without standing out on their own. But there isn’t a need to shred the vocal scales with music as peaceful as “Terremoto”. The new version of “Kent Loves Gig Harbor” is refreshing to hear after being a popular DLD song for ten years as a b-side.
Lyrically, the album stands out as a shining star of positivity and peace. The place from which Call wrote about seems to be such a high that I honestly envy the well from which he pulled. “Starting Over New” is a song late in the album that justifies the journey throughout the record as Call sings, “Because now I see the truth the world has construed / I’m so tired of the selfish things I’ve put before you / Well, I’m ready to forget myself / It seems so hard but I know you’ll help”.
Mariner is what I’ve waited so long to hear to patch the hole in my heart where Daphne Loves Derby has always sat. The soothing tones play familiar homage to a band Call helped define while pushing his style of songwriting in new directions. The message can hit you in many different ways, but it’s clear that Jason Call has found his place within the universe and hopes that you can too.
by Kyle Schultz