Hot Water Music singer/guitarist Chris Wollard has popped up again with another project. This one is an alt-country, singer/songwriter slow and expansive rocker. It draws from Arlo Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Lucero, Damien Jurado and Wollard’s previous projects like Hot Water and Rumbleseat. It takes a few listens but the tunes are solid, catchy, well crafted pieces that will have you nodding your head and humming along as you notice the beautiful little finishing touches.
Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves – released on No Idea Records – is driven by Wollard’s rough voice and roughly strummed acoustic guitar and has a melancholy, lazy evening feel to it. The storytelling is straight-forward and touching, and it’s a generally pleasant listening experience.
The tracks bounce a bit between rocking and twanging and ballading, but all flow together and keep pushing forward, driving you home. The top tracks on the CD are the opening rocker “No Exception” and the third track “The Same To You” which is a dreamy acoustic guitar campfire song, apparently written and recorded during a marathon whiskey session in the studio. The remaining eight songs are the ones that take a bit to grow on you, but they will, the constant handclapping fun heartbreak of the album will get in you. Wollard's voice is a dirty and sexy instrument, as always, and his vocals take center stage on the entire album, which is good.
The recording was done by Ben Lovett and began back in 2003 when Wollard was still doing Hot Water Music primarily and writing songs on the side. Over the next five years the recordings kept happening in different places with different people – musicians from Hot Water Music, Less Than Jake, Radon, Gunmall, The Enablers and others appear on the disc. With Hot Water Music on again and off again, Wollard and No Idea put out Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves in February of 2009 and the project was not ever supposed to go on the road, but it did, with different members, and more dates are planned so check out their MySpace profile for info and tour dates.