Album Review
Bess Rogers - Out of the Ocean Album Cover

Bess Rogers - Out of the Ocean

Reviewed by
Bess RogersOut of the Ocean
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: October 4, 2011
“Now when I look up to see the Milky Way / I understand it in a new way / Now that I’ve found you / I know what it’s about”
-Bess Rogers

“It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.”
-Bill Bryson

The last four weeks of my Composition class has been devoted to reading and writing about science and nature. Though we had so many readings I’m having trouble remembering some of the titles, one that sticks in my mind is Bill Bryson’s “How You Became You”, an essay about the minutiae of factors that went into the atoms that eventually became us today. Atoms aren’t something I contemplate every day over lunch, but once something like the quote above throws you into perspective, it’s hard to shake.

Incidentally, that article rocked my world around the same time Bess Rogers’ Out of the Ocean did. And maybe it's just the exposure speaking, but every time I listen again, I’m more and more convinced that she has something very special to say.

First and foremost, Out of the Ocean, though rife with references to evolution and other scientific concepts, is a human story before anything else. The first full track on the album, “Standing Tall”, is a fantastic example of how Rogers can weave emotional significance into even the coldest images; when she coos, “I’m standing tall / in the rain and the snow / got a little bit of love / oh, to keep me / keep me / dry,” it isn’t just an appeal to love but an assertion of strength, hope, and passion—themes that are all part of the human narrative as a whole, and themes that establish Rogers’ character right out of the gate.

Rogers puts a lot of thought into the ways that nature reflects us and vice versa, and the symbolism reveals depth in both. Take two tracks in the back half, “Water and Dirt” and “The Fittest”. The first, a chunky mix of poppy follow-them-if-you-can rhythms and bold, brave rock jamming, is perhaps the most powerful track on the whole album, a perfect intersection between the scientific and the human relationships Rogers is tying together throughout the whole album. “It’s all gonna end the same way it starts / So why don’t I let you into my heart?” is a fearlessly emotional high point that works because it puts us in the context of something bigger than ourselves. “The Fittest”, meanwhile, examines the darker side of both, a low-key song that blooms into a dreamy, wistful warning to those who “try to give back but [you] always take”.

The composition here is organic and flutteringly beautiful, whether Rogers is navigating the fragile but beautiful “In The Waves” or romping through the rowdy sing-along “Anchor”, loaded with harmonica, handclaps, and a throbbing drum beat that slowly cascades to a roaring train of fury. Within eleven tracks, Rogers spans sparse, subdued ballads (“Second Chance”), swooping, orchestral pop (“Weak Link”), and driving, blisteringly fast rock (“I’ll Be Gone”) and uses each soundscape to its fullest advantage. Despite this, the album is surprisingly fluid, running from one experiment to the next without any breaks.

Out of the Ocean is huge. It is small. It is soft yet bold. Most of all, it’s an album that can speak to everyone: we are all atoms, mounds of atomic dust if you will, and what do we matter in the grand scheme of things? Yet as Rogers sings over the final track, “Brick by brick, we are building / You won’t see it for the longest time / Rebuilding a new life / It won’t show for the longest time.” We build the world, brick by brick, specks of color in a picture that is so much bigger than we can imagine.

And if you don’t believe me, just look up and take a look at the Milky Way.

This review is a user submitted review from blue_light_888. You can see all of blue_light_888's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
02:53 PM on 05/01/12
Henry Ferreira
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Man, I just got tempted to check it out
11:34 PM on 05/01/12
Regular Member
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blue_light_888's Avatar
Man, I just got tempted to check it out
Go for it. At least check out this song and see what you think.
07:36 PM on 06/12/12
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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This disc is awesome. Bess has been one of NYC's best kept secrets for the past 2-3 years. So glad she got reviewed on here. I think I reviewed one of her discs on here a couple years back. Good stuff.
08:39 AM on 06/15/12
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This disc is awesome. Bess has been one of NYC's best kept secrets for the past 2-3 years. So glad she got reviewed on here. I think I reviewed one of her discs on here a couple years back. Good stuff.

I love how there's just this...like, network of singer-songwriters who are awesome. Bess Rogers, Ingrid Michaelson, Greg Laswell...all artists I discovered this year and all amazing.

Thanks for the read! Didn't know staff members hanged out in these parts.
02:08 AM on 10/04/12
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Nice to read the whole new idea of yours really nice one. Link Building Service

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