SONG PREMIERE: Alabama Americana Outfit Pond Diver Displays Inspiring Guitar Prowess on Soulful “Loosen Up”

Born of the legendary Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music scene and boasting contributions from local luminaries John Paul White, Dylan LeBlanc, Thad Saajid, and The Pollies, Pond Diver’s debut EP Flashbacks is a promising entry in the region’s deep and eclectic musical canon.

Flashbacks arrive on the heels of debut single “Racecar,” a jangly, fuzz-tinged indie-rock number showcasing clever, precise guitar work in the vein of The Strokes, and complemented by a horn section sourced from the nearby University of North Alabama. It’s a potent nod to the region’s gilded musical past.

The soaring vocals of Lead singer Daniel Lewey (son of “Shoals sister” Marie Lewey) are at the forefront of each track, perhaps most notably on the forlorn “Look Around” and “Over the Hill.” Melodically, the latter leans more indie-folk than the rest of the offering, but the sonic dreamscape of reverb-laden guitars interlaced with layered vocal harmonies is a clear and consistent throughline for the EP.

“‘Look Around’ is a reflection on the last breath of a relationship,” Lewey says. “The slow fade from passion to indifference. Wondering where it went, and if the other person still thinks about you as you think of them. It’s a call to be noticed and also a question—do they still see you, or are they looking elsewhere?”

Flashbacks began to take shape as a series of demos tracked at The Pollies’ Studio 144 in Greenhill, Ala., the summer of 2018. The band tapped producer Austin Motlow (John Paul White, Blaze Lawrimore, Thad Saajid) shortly thereafter for the final sessions, which went down at Single Lock Records’ Sun Drop Studio on off days between booked sessions. The EP was then mixed and mastered by Chris Bethea (Penny and Sparrow) of Muscle Shoals Mastering.

Pond Diver began sprouting their musical roots together long before the band took shape, as each member was born and raised in the Shoals area and performed in the same circles throughout their formative years. Lewey and guitarist Collin James were founding members of surf-rock outfit Willis, while bassist David Marsh’s jazz and classical background has scored him gigs as far beyond the Shoals as Italy and Costa Rica, along with drummer Hudson James, who has traveled on musical missions to eastern Europe—all of these experiences the band members draw from in Pond Diver.

Glide is thrilled to premiere “Loosen Up,” a soaring soulful rocker that boasts some of the more otherworldly guitar leads and rhythms one will hear from a modern upstart. Biting bluesy riffs that recall The Allman Brothers Band along with well-worn vocals and songwriting potency reminiscent of fellow gulf area rockers Alabama Shakes.

Bassist Davis Marsh gives a vivid description of how “Loosen Up” came to be….

“When we recorded Flashbacks, there was a lot of pressure. The pressure to make a good album, pressure to do it quickly, and pressure to establish ourselves. As the title might suggest, “Loosen Up” is, in many ways, a response to the stress we were facing when it came time to record the album,” says bassist David Marsh

“The song started as a riff that our guitarist Luke Wright played in a demo session with our producer, Austin Motlow, before hitting the studio,” adds Marsh “We were approaching a pretty serious make-or-break point with Flashbacks, but we took the time out of that demo session to bring the song to life. We ended up enjoying it so much that it became the first track on the album.”

“The lyrics are a comment on related struggles the band was having at the time. The line “Being young is a burden to bear/You can’t run around and say it’s too late” is a reference to the pressure we faced on another level: the need to do something meaningful with our time and opportunity before it was gone. “A shot in the ass won’t help/I’ll just sleep it off in bed” is actually about our vocalist Daniel Lewey trying a B-12 shot to see if it would help boost his energy while recording.”

“In the studio, the song took shape in a similar manner. We tracked the core of the song live, but once all of the parts were in, we wanted more. We called in our friend and resident noisemaker Clint Chandler and we ended up just making a bunch of crazy sounds for this song. Everything from toy piano to vibraphone to gong was used at one point or another on this song. On that day in the studio we were able to let go of the stresses of perfection and just have a good time. I think that translated very well in the recording.”

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The song started as a riff that our guitarist Luke Wright played in a demo session with our producer, Austin Motlow, before hitting the studio. We were approaching a pretty serious make-or-break point with Flashbacks, but we took the time out of that demo session to bring the song to life. We ended up enjoying it so much that it became the first track on the album.

 

The lyrics are a comment on related struggles the band was having at the time. The line “Being young is a burden to bear/You can’t run around and say it’s too late” is a reference to the pressure we faced on another level: the need to do something meaningful with our time and opportunity before it was gone. “A shot in the ass won’t help/I’ll just sleep it off in bed” is actually about our vocalist Daniel Lewey trying a B-12 shot to see if it would help boost his energy while recording.

 

In the studio, the song took shape in a similar manner. We tracked the core of the song live, but once all of the parts were in, we wanted more. We called in our friend and resident noisemaker Clint Chandler and we ended up just making a bunch of crazy sounds for this song. Everything from toy piano to vibraphone to gong was used at one point or another on this song.

 

“On that day in the studio we were able to let go of the stresses of perfection and just have a good time. I think that translated very well in the recording,” says bassist David Marsh.

Photos by Abraham Rowe.

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