In a music video shot for the song “I Don’t Wanna Lose My Mind,” Jake Newcomb carries a lantern through Battery Steele, the cave-like former military base on Peak’s Island; lighting up the graffiti that decorates the walls as he walks through the empty corridors. It’s fitting imagery for “Hazy Dream,” Newcomb’s third album-long search for illumination via various philosophies, religions and dreams, which he recorded as Sea King.
A Maine native who traded the Portland in Maine for the one in Oregon, Newcomb’s music has always felt as comfortable travelling between genres as the name of his self-created Nomadic Behavior Records suggests. As with previous Sea King albums, “Hazy Dream” is unified by overarching themes of self-betterment, spirituality, and the meaning of life, more than it is by any particular sound.
Over the years, Newcomb has become adept at layering samples, vocal effects and backing instrumentation into his music; fleshing out creations to the point where they seldom sound anything like the traditional guy and guitar, singer-songwriter stuff. But when you hear a Sea King song, no matter what he has done to manipulate his sound, Newcomb’s heartfelt lyrics are always the centerpiece. The album begins with a vocal slowed and deepened to a register somewhere between satanic and operatic, but Newcomb’s message is anything but obscured as he repeats the line, “sometimes I feel like a motherless child.”
This vulnerability is one of Newcomb’s most endearing traits. He opens up even more on the aforementioned “Lose My Mind,” confessing the continued work he’s putting in to maintain sanity, maturity, and sobriety. “I don’t wanna waste my life,” he sings.
Most of the rest of the album inhabits brief, thought provoking bursts that sound like the hazy dreams after which the album is named. Newcomb’s music dwells in those sleepy moments just after waking up - trying to hold onto snatches of insight from the subconscious, that waking life mercilessly rips away. On “Light In The Cave,” Sea King is “gonna reach for the answers tonight.” On “My Lame Brain,” he struggles to escape the fog of his own mind and the hazy dreams that imprison it. And on “Within Your Mind,” he uses dreaming to “fit infinity into a morning.”
Newcomb continues the search for life’s answers in dreams throughout the album without ever quite getting there. But there are rewards in the continued pursuit, and in Newcomb’s vocalization of it. The album lingers for a lighthearted moment on the soothing standout “No Objective,” which finds Sea King taking the time to stare at the walls and feel just fine about it. Jake Newcomb hasn’t found a way to fully channel the wisdom of his dreaming mind, but “No Objective” suggests he’s not losing much sleep over it. Hopefully those sleep filled nights will help him on his quest to make sense of all those hazy dreams.
“Hazy Dream” was released on October 2. To check it out, visit www.nomadicbehaviorrecords.com