Video Premiere: Tobias the Owl, "Deep River City" (feat. Laura Veirs)

by Kim Ruehl (@kimruehl), Folk Alley

Talk with Elijah Dhavvan about his music (he performs as Tobias the Owl) and you’re likely to wind up learning a thing or two about stars, black holes, and the formation of universes. It’s all creative energy, after all. Besides, Dhavvan has had some significant life events that led him to exploring what he could do with music.

His second album, A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes, due August 24 on Megaforce Records, is an intimately personal, imaginative collection of songs that grapple with, among other things, the meaning of life.

“One of the major themes of the album,” he says, “is the fine line between finding your way and being lost in this world. The reason that came about was that I had been diagnosed with … terminal leukemia, which is one of the reasons I started pursuing music, in some ways. This album is kind of about my experiences, physically and philosophically, rejoining the world after I had that health issue. And trying to find my position in the world again, finding my footing.”

Each of the songs on Safe Harbor are emotionally provocative and lush in their arrangements. Dhavvan follows his “wayward echoes” through choppy waters, before landing somewhere more safe and sound on the final track—“When Words Have Fallen Through,” a song about unrelenting support, no matter the storms on the sea.

Indeed, choppy water is a running theme of the album—underground rivers, snow, rain showers, grey waves, floods. Water is as much life force as it is destructive. But here, water always moves; we are pulled through events on its currents and tides.

One of the most stirring tunes on the album, “Deep River City,” is characteristic of Dhavvan’s complex, multi-layered approach to songwriting. On the one hand, it’s a tribute to the city of Olympia, Washington, where a river flows deep underground. On the other hand, it’s a statement about the at-once insignificant and profound impact we have on the world around us and the universe beyond.

After explaining chaos theory and the law of conservation of information, Dhavvan adds, “The point of that song is that balance of: Are we very ephemeral beings that exist very briefly and very transiently, or do we have a lasting, significant impact on the universe? The first verse is about how we’re just here for an instant and then we disappear. The second verse is about how, even though we’re here very briefly and we don’t seem like we have a significant impact, there is a permanent change that occurs in the universe because we are here.”

With the help of notable singer-songwriters like Ben Harper, Laura Veirs, and Inara George—and Jonah Tolchin, a stable in Dhavvan’s band—A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes is beautifully performed and well-orchestrated. It will release just in time to beautifully soundtrack the shifting of the tides, the coming of the rains, and the greying of the sky as autumn sets in.


A Safe Harbor For Wayward Echoes with "Deep River City" (feat. Laura Veirs) is available at iTunes and Amazon

Upcoming Tour Dates:

August 30 - Album release at the Sunset (Seattle)

September 15th - Light the Nightwalk (Leukemia benefit) (Tacoma)

September 16th - Secret house show (Everett)

September 21st - Virginia Steam Ship show (Secret show, Seattle)

September 28th - Barboza show with Lucy Spraggan (Seattle)

October 7th - Hotel Utah (San Francisco)

October 19th - Central Saloon (Seattle)

October 26th - Cameron House (Toronto, Canada)

October 29th - Pete's Candy Shop (Brooklyn)

October 30th - Sofar NYC (NYC, Secret show)

more tour information here

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