Review Archive

‘Small Defeats’ from Broken Boat – an absorbing of eminently memorable songs

(June 01, 2014)

Another hard-to-define band - Broken Boat and their debut album ‘Small Defeats’ defies Broken Boat Small Defeatsrestrictive definition. Folk is there in cartloads, pop-tinged hooks proliferate, coupled with a fine balladic touch. There’s also a slice of eccentricity, passionate originality and expressive storytelling. All things considered, this is a thoroughly engrossing album filled with eminently memorable songs, observant lyrics constructed with an intelligent attention to meaning and emphasis, coupled with a dramatic musical touch.

At the heart of ‘Small Defeats’ resides its strong songwriting essence crafting a combination of warm vocals over a sometimes uncommon blend of instruments, arrayed with some seriously satisfying harmonies. When you first hear the album its depth, mix of styles and varied influences insist on further investigation. The opening title track ‘Small Defeats’ on its wave of keyboards with brass accents, takes you direct to the strength of the lyrics and vocals. Throughout, this is an album that builds and never fades, each successive track adding to the impact of the whole. Within its mingling of ‘spoken’ and sung vocals, ‘Pencil Memories’, slower but equally compelling, lays out its formidable counsel, then stirring up the pace again, ‘Night Owl’ expresses its regretful sorrow.

Add to the collection with the smooth lyrical intensity of ‘Water & wine’, despondent realisation of truth conveyed through ‘Morning rain’ and the delightfully laconic ‘Song in D’ with its entirely original take on a song about love, while ‘Basement Days’ typifies the genuine wanderings of those days-with-nothing-to-do. Closing with a outwardly autobiographical note, ‘Time Takes Us All’ tells a tale that’s too easy to understand – it could be anyone’s story and we’ve all experienced a similar trek.

On ‘Small Defeats’ Broken Boat are Daniel Bahrami (lyrics, vocals, guitar, harmonica) Brendan Kearney (guitar, banjo, lap steel, electric guitar, mandolin, ukulele, bass guitar) Jess Hart (vocals, accordion, piano, electric organ, bass guitar, glockenspiel, percussion) and Jerome Maree (drums, percussion, bass guitar, backing vocals) with Tim Winward (trumpet).

‘Small Defeats’ releases in July 2014, find more here: www.brokenboat.co.uk

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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