One of those bands which is actually just one bloke (Gord Mathieson) , the Dundee-based one-piece have, for this recording at least, enlissted the help of Dundee rockers Pensioner. However, while the album shows a variety of light and shade, Car Boat Sail is more about the song and less about the rock.
The eleven tracks here rise and fall, but opener ‘Walkabout’ is nothing short of magnificent – classic, towering songwroting in the vein of Built To Spill or Will Oldham, or even Y’All Is fantasy Island (I’ve just reviewed the Adam Stafford solo album so this may be in my mind, but even so, that’s no disgrace as a comparison).
That’s the opener of course, and as with any album, the strongest track is placed first. That’s not to say that the remaining tracks aren’t worthwhile, but since (for example) ‘Oh Georgie’ and ‘A New Jersey Affair’ are more standard pop-rock fare, we can focus on the lyrics, where Mathieson weaves tales of ordinary occurrences, liaisons and affairs in an engaging way that, like a good book, keeps us captivated until the end.
It’s also creative as well, and every track has something to involve and intrigue, from the title of ‘Te Moeka O Tuawe’ to ‘Across The Line’ which is basically a drunken sea santy. Other highlights are ‘The Canterbury Association’, a slow-moving fiddle-driven paean to New Zealand which suddenly gathers a crowd lustily singing “don’t leave us now, we’re not good alone”.
In all, an understated release that could just turn up on a few best-of lists come the end of the year.