Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Most recent release, Latency (EP, 2011)
Wikipedia's entry for Heather Duby
Sub Pop Records' Heather Duby page
The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for Elemental Duby, Heather Duby's collaboration with Elemental
Kym Brown, Suzanne Vega, Amanda Kramer-era Golden Palominos, Jane Siberry, Sarah McLachlan, Pamela Golden, Daughter Darling, Beth Orton
Co-writes songs with her producer
Duby is a young singer-songwriter who hails from Seattle, and the grey, somber-yet-beautiful tone of her debut reflects that lush, rain-drenched city. Duby's voice is a clear, beautiful alto that soars into an angelic soprano. Her lyrics are concise descriptions of emotional states that avoid obtuse or overwrought imagery. The precision of her lyrics and the clipped, chilly tone of her voice reminds one of Suzanne Vega. The backing music is equal parts trip-hop, Electronica sampling, and 4AD-like atmospherics. (email@example.com)
I like this a lot...I'm excited by the idea that she uses Eastern European harmonies...that's incredible to me, I'm all about that Eastern European music...mmmmmm...it seems that there are a good number of female singer-songwriters going this more technological route...the queen of them at the moment is of course Kym Brown, since she's doing it all herself...Yeah...but this Heather Duby character is certainly rockin'...But anyhow...umm...this is still missing Kym Brown's toughness, her grime dried into the cracks...I was really expecting something much more unique as well...Heather Duby has a gorgeous voice and interesting enough lyrics (though occasionally they flop right on their faces right down into the dirt), and the her melodies are often absolutely perfect...but I was thinking it'd be more inventive as far as instrumentation etc...but now I just look as it as a vocal album with beats, and I'm much more satisfied with it. (John.Drummond)
Recommended first album:
Come Across the River
1999—Sub Pop Records—SPCD 486
Wide in U.S.
Recommended for anyone who likes electronics + vocals
Heather Duby—vocals, music
Charlie Huintana—percussion on 5 tracks
Erick Akre—percussion on 2 tracks
Gary Thorsetensen—guitar on 2 tracks
Michael Shilling—drums on 1 track
Bo Gilliland—bass on 1 track
One song, "September," is highly reminiscent of Amanda Kramer's dreamy, abstract country-folk work with the Golden Palominos. There's not a bad song on the CD. Highlights are the skittering, This Mortal Coil-meets-Portishead "Halo Sky" (which features an Ocean-be-my-lover-theme), the crystalline-tribal "For Jeffrey" (a kind of hymnal on steroids), and the off-kilter carnival ambience of "A Healthy Fear of Monsters." Duby's CD is a promising debut. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It's interesting, there are places where Heather Duby reminds me of all kinds of ecto artists. On the fifth song she sounds really like Jane Siberry to me, at time she sound rather like Sarah McLachlan, and there's a strong similarity to Pamela Golden (Steve Fisk is all over both albums, so that probably explains part of that) though updated. Interesting music! (Neile)
2003—Sonic Boom Recordings—SBR011
Heather Duby—vocals, piano, keys
Bo Gilliland—bass, guitars, keys
Erik Akre—drums and drum sequencing
Brendan Titrud—guitar on "Providence"
Steve Fisk—additional keys
James Hampton—guitar on "Stamped Out"
The new Heather Duby is wonderfully intricate and catchy. I hear Daughter Darling, (good) Sarah McLachlan, Siberry, bits of 4AD. Imagine Beth Orton with more of a 4AD aesthetic. Pop, with an arty edge. Her voice is mixed up front, and it's huskier and fuller bodied than on her debut. Pretty, intricate arrangements, bracingly personal lyrics.
I heartily recommend it.
Dear Ms. Duby:
This CD has become one of the most listened-to in my collection. It is a perfect balance of ethereality and earthiness, catchiness and sonic exploration, with just the right touches of ornamentation. The lyrics are clever, personal hard-won observations. Your vocals have a husky edge to them, no doubt in part due to your voice-threatening bout of tonsillitis. The new husk in the voice gives your interpretations a gravity, conferred with the Dew of Wisdom I'll demonstrate:
"Make Me Some Insomnia" flirts with lo-fi indie rock before soaring into icy heights on the bridge. The double-tracked vocal is angelic and sweet. Great line: "To rely on anyone else is like sinking for the fun of it—there's no one, no help."
The Rare Vavoom" is a midnight cabaret piece, with a startling and effective trumpet solo that sounds almost mariachi-influenced. "Would you break my knees, make me kneel and pray...".
"The Blue Shoes" is a slo-core lullaby with a soaring chorus, complete with cricket chirps. "Off to bed, dreamless dead, you cannot keep mocking me..." Summer reminscience, the undercurrent of sweet regret.
"Providence" is catchy enough to be a single. Again, you make regret sound so good. "Never was one to lay blame, 'til they took her from me."
Your echoey ballads, "Coin Jar" and "Auto Immune" are almost neoclassical in their execution. The phrasing is tentative, heartbreaking, and the lyrics have a self-deprecating air about them, that remind me of Jane Siberry and Suzanne Vega, though not in any way I can put my finger on.
"Golden Syrup" is a self-affirmation hymn that ends this song cycle. It's like a piece of '20s ragtime, discreetly updated with words that daringly flirt with the sentimental.
In short, you more than deliver the promise you showed on Post to Wire, your excellent debut. ("For Jeffrey" helped me tremendously when I lost my father and my aunt within a week of each other).
Special kudos to the song titles—they should make any 4AD aficionado lick their lips. Please keep creating.
Sincerely yours, C (email@example.com)
I liked Heather Duby's first album upon first listen. Lovely soprano voice, interesting use of electronica. But it didn't stick, and I can't remember the last time I listened to it. Come Across the River, her second solo album, is a giant leap forward. It's less aggressive, more textured, more interesting. Her voice has changed, become deeper, huskier (that's Craig's word, but I can't think of a better one).
The album has a quiet intensity and something a touch Southern about it, in the way that the Cowboy Junkies have. Much of it feels like a dark street on a dark night. I hear it coming from around the corner (or, really, out of my stereo), and it holds me there without letting go. It has wonderful string arrangements, heaviness and lightness in the right places. I don't know how to describe it well; I just know it calls me to listen. The song titles are also wonderfully strange, and they add to the mystery of the album, especially since lyrics aren't included. (JoAnn Whetsell)
2006—Sonic Boom Recordings—SBR020
Heather Duby—vocals, piano, keys
Rob Hampton—guitars except tracks 1 & 6
Steve Fisk—additional keys
Alex Rose—guitars on tracks 1 & 6
Steve Fisk and Heather Duby
Heather Duby's first album, Post to Wire, was an exercise in glacial electronica. Her cool, crystalline voice cast out one-liners and observations against state of the art samples and beats that emphasized atmospheric over harmonics. Her second album, Come Across the River removed the electronic atmospheres, replacing them with standard rock instrumentation augmented with cellos and the occasional odd instrument. It was a wise decision. Between album 1 and album 2, Duby lost the purity of her voice, and sang in lower register with a slight husk (reportedly, a bout with pneumonia caused the damage). Think Lynn Canfield of Area or Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies with more force. She opted to create moody indie rock ballads that were closer in spirit to such underdog sisters as Aimee Mann and Lisa Germano. The electronica is back in this album, and it meshes well with the template followed on Come Across the River, and her songcraft has expanded. Like Mann, she writes pithy, catchy songs that explore bitterness and regret with wisdom. Her wounded voice gives her songs gravitas that her younger voice lacked. The spaciness of the electronic effects plays nicely against the driving, structured pieces. Highlights include "Gone Aground," with its swirling cello, "Listen" with its driving beat, and the catchy "Dullard, Or Are You A Breakfast Alcoholic". Duby has managed to make an album about depression that doesn't sound depressing. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yes, it's really good! The album is overall "poppier" than her last album, but it's not mainstream pop. It's got a dark edge to it. Heather's piano playing is prominent, but on different tracks it's set to drum & bass, electric guitars, or beats. Two piano-based waltzes, "Wrestle and Cuss" and "Gone Aground" strongly remind me of Come Across the River. And there's an excellent cover of "Love Is a Battlefield" as a hidden track. I can't put my finger on what I like about the album, but that's almost surely a good sign. After 3 years of listening to Come Across the River, I still can't put my finger on what's going on in that album or why I like it so much. I just know that I do. And the more I listen to the new album, the more I love it too. ( (JoAnn Whetsell)
Wide among digital retailers
It's such an amazing record. I've listened to it nearly non-stop. I've been a fan of hers since her first album Post to Wire. It's been amazing seeing her grow as a performer from album to album. Her sound and songwriting just keeps changing and progressing. I love the beauty and mystery of Post to Wire, but I actually like the less electronic sound she's adapted since then. I really adore her songwriting as well. It's very nicely layered and slightly mysterious but incredibly listenable.
Latency starts out on such a perfect note with "Ode." Although it's written as an ode to a specific person, it's as much an ode to a certain time of life, a certain feeling that's been lost. There's a certain ache in the pit of my stomach I get when I listen to it. It's a beautiful ache though.
Although "Ode" might be my favorite, there's not a weak track on the EP. From the soaring rock energy of "Stay for Fun," the shoegaze-like wall of sound supporting the chorus of "One Canary, Two..." there's just so much to recommend and like. (email@example.com)
Heather Duby covered "I Must Have Been Blind" for Sing a Song for You—A Tribute to Tim Buckley (2000).
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.