CHRIS WOLLARD & THE SHIP THIEVES: Self-titled: CD

This record is a prime example of why I don’t like reviewers who half listen to a record once and knock out a short paragraph review. Especially when that review is negative. If I had written this the first time I listened to this record, I would have given it a completely different review. I’m a big fan of Chris Wollard’s voice and songwriting. I’d easily say I like his post-Hot Water Music work over that of Chuck Ragan’s. Nothing against Chuck, but I’ve thrown on The Draft’s LP many more times than any of Chuck’s records. However, I was a bit taken aback by how different Chris sounds on this record. The song writing is easily recognized, but the tempo is slower and he’s operating on a lower register. I put this in a five disc changer after listening to it by itself a few times and let it come up in the mix at random. That’s when I was really able to appreciate this for what it is on its own merits instead of my expectations. These songs come from the same shafts Evan Dando mines on his best days and shines through the same holes in the canopy that Elliott Smith’s greatest moments did. It covers a lot of the heartbreak and “good times are killing me” ground you’d expect from Chris and the previously mentioned artists without making you want to kill yourself at the end of it. This might be a one-off solo project, but each song is finely crafted and stands on its own. Separate from Chris’s past musical entanglements. Chris did what all musicians in famous bands who do solo records should do. He made a record in his own voice that differs from his other bands but comes up with the goods as far as the songs go. Too many people either make albums that sound exactly like their main band or attempt to shoot so far in to the opposite end of the spectrum as possible. Chris found the middle ground here and it pays for those who take the time to appreciate the effort.

 –Steve Stephenson (No Idea)