By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
So maybe it's not just luck.
Maybe Jessica Dobson really is just that good.
* * *
"Some of these songs I've lived with for four years now," Dobson says, discussing the songs which made the cut from the first album to the second. "I have this tendency to want to rework things when I'm around them for that long, and most of the time, they turn into half-rate versions of the original."
Most of the time, perhaps, yes, when you're living in New York and making rookie mistakes. But when you're living in Seattle, collaborating with members of the Crystal Skulls and jamming with Sufjan Stevens' drummer? And when indie mega-producer Phil Ek—who counts Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and the Shins as clients—is at the helm? Not so much. When you've got that going for you, it's only natural that your oldest songs—like the undeniably hooky "Most Sundays" (sure to be a single) and the slow-like-honey "Crooked Stars" (sure to be a follow-up)—come off sounding like the best songs, and that recording in general goes "fantastically well."
"Sometimes, it takes a little time to get things right," Dobson reflects, with no detectable trace of irony or even awareness that the farthest most bands get in terms of taking "a little time to get things right" is playing at coffee shops and inside a rented lockout—not recording an entire first album. Still, whatever the reason Dobson was granted a second chance, she is not wasting it. "I look at last summer and think, 'What a great learning experience.' If only to appreciate this summer and coming back and looking closely at who to choose to work with."
As for pressure from the label, you'd think there would be a ton—label execs calling 20 times a day, an on-site handler, anything to ensure that no mistakes are being repeated. But Dobson admits only to the pressure she places on herself. "The great thing about it is I realize the importance of this process, but I don't feel this overbearing pressure," she says. "This time around, I'm pushing myself a lot harder." Sure, she talks to her A&R person over the phone about two or three times a week, but even then, it's over the phone—"It's not like I can play him the songs over the phone," Dobson jokes. "It's like, 'How do the tracks sound?' 'Good!'"
So, yes, it's okay to say it: Jessica Dobson is truly one very lucky girl. But her multi-stop road trip toward releasing her major label debut also offers a glimmer of hope for the industry once thought to be so rigid and soulless: "A lot of things have changed since I signed with Atlantic a little over two years ago—a lot of people at the label got the wrong idea of where I was coming from," she says, adding, "But . . . that's been corrected."