Review | Head Above The Waters – DijahSB

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A short and sweet collection that grows with every listen

Whether you see the twenty-four minute run time of Head Above the Waters as an example of streamlined minimalism or a too laid back approach, it’s hard to dispute the quality the eight-track ensemble holds. Toronto-based DijahSB has shown, in scaling back the sometimes overpowering instrumentation of 2020 the Album, an easily identifiable maturation since their efforts from the start of the decade.

It’s also hard to deny the diversity and selection of sounds to pick and choose from the album, too. Touches of lo-fi reminiscent of Billy Woods are present throughout, joining in powerful union with the Lizzo-esque mover ‘Overtime’ and the darker tones of A Tribe Called Quest in ‘New Harrison’, which also holds a welcome appearance from Terrell Morris.

Head Above The Waters also continues DiahSB’s unrelenting resilience in lyricism, with her conflict with depression, nine-to-five working life and self-belief featuring. ‘Way Too Many Ways’ is perhaps the most afflicting, first seeing Dijah yearning to “know how it feels to live my best life” before describing their music as a way to “tell the world about all the things that happened to me“. It’s open, honest and refuses to fall into a dominating sense of nihilism.

The most rewarding moments of the album come in the most tonally experimental and brave. ‘Moving With The Tides’ chops up slide guitar and masterfully fuses its remnants with a restrained beat and bass track, while ‘Throw That Back’ is an altogether more mutant and intriguing composition that comes and goes in and out of focus enticingly.

This is an album that is a tribute to both Dijah’s attention to artistry and their influences. Without falling into pastiche, put before you is a refreshing taste of rap’s variations mixed in with an idiosyncratic approach to vocal and thematic delivery.

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