The universe is making music all the time

Step Right Up: Sink Ships

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Sink Ships’ debut release ‘Half The Boy’ reviewed by Richmond Fontaine’s Dave Harding; blissful Americana from this wonderful Copenhagen-based band. 

Words: Dave Harding, Illustration: Craig Carry


Half The Boy, the debut record from Sink Ships, does what a good record should: it creates a world for the listener to lose oneself in. Half The Boy’s world is located somewhere on the edge of a desolate town, with the narrator ambling through the scenes, in search of something that is just out of reach.

It may surprise people that the band Sink Ships is based out of Copenhagen. Judging by their sound, they could hail from the valleys of Montana. They hit a classic Western American sound with a blend of drums, acoustic guitars, bass, fiddle and lap steel guitar.

Two of the members, drummer Matthew Moller and lead singer and main songwriter Carl Coleman, hail from Australia. Coleman has a yearning vocal style, and the way he adds emotion to his sometimes sparse lyrics helps the listener read between the lines of the taut stories he creates. And I swear I hear a hint of J Mascis in a couple of his phrasings.

Coleman cites Jeff Tweedy, Mark Everett, Jim James, Tim Rogers, Mark Kozlelek and Jason Molina as songwriting influences.

Though the six songs on the ep clock in at a little over 20 minutes, there is enough musical detail and lyrical lyrics to keep it fresh for repeated listening.

The first song, “On My Way”, with it’s upfront acoustic guitar, fiddle, ‘country’ drums and harmonica, sets the musical tone for the album with a feel that sounds like it could have come off of Neil Young’s Harvest. Throughout the album Emilia Olson’s violin playing and Tobias Bendixen’s lap steel provide the instrumental interplay, and they compliment each other very nicely. Olson’s violin is sometimes reminiscent of Scarlet Rivera’s playing on Bob Dylan’s Desire. The touch of piano on the mournful “Woke Up Laughing” and the banjo that helps propel “Heard the Door Shut” are nice musical touches that add character to the record. The playing by all the musicians is sympathetic to the songs, and creates a nice world for them to live in. The group is rounded out by the bass playing of Brian Della Valle.

The songs are concise and to the point. There is nothing played or said which doesn’t need to be there. Everything on Half The Boy is done for the sake of the song.

My favorite song is “Love Song”, which starts off sounding like an early Bob Dylan song, just guitar and harmonica. It tells the tale of the singer’s love for his ‘small town girl’ in a convincing, loving way.

Coleman’s lyrics on the record portray a man at odds with the world, roaming to find some kind of spiritual or carnal release. The title track “Half The Boy” details a person finding his place in a new land:

Now I’m back from the warm land

Now I’m walking through the snow

And the flat feels like a mansion

Quiet and cold

Just sit and listen to Nebraska

Waiting to get old

Half The Boy is a very fine debut record which bodes well for the band’s future.

The group is about to start work on a new, full-length record. It will be exciting to follow Sink Ships and see what kind of trip they take us on with their music.

Half The Boy is out now on Slow Records. Outside of Denmark, the record can be purchased at iTunes, and also streamed at Bandcamp at:


Written by admin

January 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

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  1. […] Dave Harding is bass player in Portland Oregon’s Richmond Fontaine; who have released ten studio albums to worldwide critical acclaim, their latest LP is ‘The High Country.’ Dave is also a singer-songwriter in his own right, and has released two albums to date; his debut ‘Across The Road’ (2007) and ‘You Came Through’ (2012). (To read Dave’s other contributions for us, please see: here, here and here.) […]

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