Album Review: Spirit Shaker by DIVA

Much like the runaway train mentioned in the opening line of “Follow Me”, a rock riff barrels through the beginning of DIVA’s debut EP, Spirit Shaker, bringing young, hopeful energy in its wake. “Follow Me” is a nod to social media culture, without the promises of the same following in return, which is extremely relevant to the expectations of our modern society. Often the distances driven between us by social media’s disconnected pressure further pushes us away from true human interaction. “Follow Me” addresses this by reflecting on how technology can truly connect us to our friends, especially when we are waiting to hear that they have arrived safely at home.

The underlying themes throughout Spirit Shaker are relying on close friends, maintaining a happy, optimistic outlook on life, and persevering through personal struggles with depression. This is especially represented by the warmth of the instrumentation that gives more prominence to the upbeat, poppy melodies. The lyrics delve deeper into the writers’ psyches as they cope with their mental health.

In “Hiding”, we can imagine an idyllic drive through the suburbs, possibly to visit friends or family, when life’s troubles get to be too much. “Hiding” wonderfully pairs a driving bass line with drums to create a supported, sunny rhythm. The antiphony of the chorus echoes two friends giving helpful advice to each other.

“Dillon’s Song” begins with more laid back suspended notes that jump into a peppy verse. This wistful song’s lyrics allow the singer to let go of the past while still retaining the happier memories of better times. This movement from the past is thematically conveyed as literal travel to the west. The surfy syncopation of “Dillon’s Song” encourages dancing and the discovery of better places.

Finally, title track “Spirit Shaker” resolves the recurring theme of depression. Finding support by surrounding yourself with kind, good friends can help you shake off pessimism and learn to “make light of the events in my life” to move forward. It is obvious that music is not only fun but also healing to DIVA.

As “Follow Me” says, “a chain is as strong as its weakest link,” and Spirit Shaker neatly settles in sync to structure a solid, self-sure EP. It suggests the band members have genuinely formed a respectful, unpretentious bond. There are none of the negative connotations normally associated with the word diva to be found.

DIVA’s Spirit Shaker EP releases today, February 1st, alongside a release show at Stepbrothers in Norman. See the poster below for details.

Spirit Shaker was recorded and produced by Ricardo Sasaki at Ares Recording in Oklahoma City.

DIVA is Dante Frame (guitar and vocals), Dillon Polston (bass and backing vocals) and Reece Carmen (drums).

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