"I wish I'd had this CD out a year ago," says Pat Deighan, on the phone from Charlottetown, PEI. He's referring to his new record, In a Fever, In a Dream, which he debuted in his home province last Saturday. He's bringing it to The Seahorse Tavern on Saturday night.
In a Fever, In a Dream is the Charlottetown native's first release since his 2005 solo album, Night Light. Deighan chalks up the lengthy break between that album and this new one he recorded with his band, the Orb Weavers, to money and bass-player problems. But, he says, time outside the recording studio has allowed him to grow as an artist. Deighan describes the 2005 record as more of a singer-songwriter record than his latest creation. "There's more of a rock element to it," he says, the product of playing with a three-piece band night after night.
Pat Deighan and the Orb Weavers are the spiritual cousins of Dartmouth's Matt Mays and El Torpedo---hard-travelled rockers, with a hint of country crooner mixed in for good measure. But where Mays' lyrics look outwards seeking universality, Deighan focuses on the here and now. Like the name suggests, he's the band's primary songwriter, but that doesn't mean the other three don't have opportunities to provide input.
"I bring the songs to the band," he says, then guitarist John Mullins, drummer Shane Coady and new bass-player Dan Wagner put their stamp on them. Given the long lead-time to recording, 95 percent of the album's 12 songs were completely written before the quartet set foot in a studio. Only two songs---"Musical Chairs" and "Say What You Want," which was trimmed from a sluggish seven minutes down to a more sprightly four---had any proper gestation time in the studio.
In a Fever, In a Dream grabs your attention, even before you've cracked the case open. The album's cover is mesmerizing, to the point where you could literally stare at it for hours and still not have a full grasp on what's going on. The artwork is spawned from the mind of Brazilian graphic designer João Faissal, who attended Holland College with Deighan's girlfriend, photographer Katelyn Fraser. She put them in contactwith one another and Faissal ran through some rough sketches before settling on a final concept.
It looks like an ecstasy-fuelled nightmare---a massive grizzly bear opening up its own stomach to reveal a surreal scene---stars and a crescent moon illuminate an airplane pulling a water skier, which soar over a squadron of hot air balloons launching off a cragged mountain peak. "He wanted to go with some different imagery," says Deighan who remains mum on any insight into what it all might mean.
Of course, Deighan knows it takes more than clever album covers to build a band's reputation. The 33-year-old is far from new to the east coast music scene. "It's something I've been doing since I was 16," he says. In the 1990s, Deighan was a member of Strawberry and played guitar and traded vocals with Belinda Doyle in Eyes for Telescopes, which released a handful of albums in the early 2000s. "I didn't find it intimidating," he says, looking back at his early solo shows. A decade of performing took care of any major bouts of stage fright. "But I always had complaints that no one could hear what I was singing."
In a Fever, In a Dream is Deighan's first official outing with the Orb Weavers, but Mullins and Coady actually came together during the recording sessions for Deighan's debut solo album. "We've all been friends for a long time," he says. Wagner joined before the Orb Weavers' most recentrecording sessions.
Even though the band has its sights set on a fall tour through Ontario and Quebec, Deighan is still very much a part of the tight-knit PEI music scene. "You need people in the scene making things happen," he says, be it organizing shows or running locally focused record labels. Deighan remembers early in his career playing shows with Summerside-based band Merge, which knocked down many of the doors Deighan's walked through over his decade-plus career. It's this kind of mentor role that Deighan hopes he can contribute to the scene these days.