Head Above the Waters celebrates DijahSB’s tenacity and resilience without denying that success is a precarious —and perpetual — work-in-progress.
DijahSB has a lot of feelings about a lot of things that all bubble up to the surface on Head Above the Waters. It has rightly been described as a vulnerable, groovy, and sharply observed collection of songs, but what’s most striking about DijahSB’s follow-up to 2020: The Album and Girls Give Me Anxiety EP is their fierce independence and matter-of-fact flow in the absence of their previous releases’ comedic elements.
There’s not a damn thing funny about the struggle just to survive chronicled on the title track, describing themselves as “a sleepwalking robot that’s out of gear” and “hiding from grief, the same way [they] hide from police.” On “Way Too Many Ways,” DijahSB gets all confessional, but it’s clear that their honesty is less about themselves and more about making visible that which society hides. “I’ve done some things up in my life that there’s just no defending,” they admit, adding that, “I’m moving with a little more intention / People gravitate towards me now because I know depression / I be talking about the harder parts that no one mentions.” Lest they come across as making some kind of “it gets better” statement, DijahSB is quick to point out that, “I overcame the feeling, but I get visits often / And I don’t mind the company I guess it keep me cautious.”
Over its brief twenty-four minutes, Head Above the Waters never loses sight of its central theme and recurring motif. Lyrically, allusions to treading water just to keep from going under abound, but the beats and production point to the album’s premise as well. Musically, Head Above the Waters is smooth and sometimes serene like a calm lake: laid back, relaxed, and in control. It’s DijahSB’s incomparable flow — their Nerf ball-soft bounce and innate sense of melody — that suggest rapid paddling below the surface and the tenuous hold on the control that they now feel they have. In that sense, Head Above the Waters explores the dichotomy of living an internal emotional world and how that gets expressed externally to others. It’s about being both vulnerable and confident, a realist and a dreamer. It’s about kicking like a duckling in the water just to keep moving like a swan across the surface. Head Above the Waters celebrates DijahSB’s tenacity and resilience without denying that success is a precarious —and perpetual — work-in-progress.