The Little Ships are a musical collective based in Seattle and Shakespeare’s birthplace. While the green light shines steady and clear for collaborative involvement, The Little Ships are a quartet fronted by singer Ty Willman, multi-instrumentalists Kathy Moore and Mike McNamara, with Erin Tate on drums. Their sound pulls from a lyrical folk-pop standard, often polished with brass and moody flourishes.
“March XX” begins Like Shadows with quiet steps. The instrumental piece drifts, settling in the spaces between sounds. “Hungry for the Blues” abandons the experimental unfurl for piano driven melodicism and rhythmic brilliance. Singer Willman sounds prophetically seasoned, wielding words and nuance without over selling. “Pedals in the Meadow” use of static, sustained electric guitars vibrate steps for Willman’s voice to elevate and punctuate, particularly on the infectious chorus.
Still holding thread from his 90’s hard rock output (Green Apple Quick Step), Willman’s previous backdrop solidifies as The Little Ships unfasten. The harrowing guitar notes on “Sky” pummel the loam, while Willman’s aerodynamic voice skirts footprints. This succinctness carries throughout Like Shadows with frequent glints of patience and grace. “Throw It All Away” unpacks this deeper by use of ghostly piano strikes, delicate brass blares, and Willman’s sorrow filled pleading. Trumpeter Bill Jones rounds out the nod to relationship mishaps with a jittery, early morning reprieve.
The remaining half on Like Shadows, fleshes out, often revealing brokenness missed by the gorgeous fluidity The Little Ships play with. The indecipherable conversing on “Rare Birds” cloaks a driving mystique, pulsing along Tate’s clearly defined cadence and Moore’s austere, post-rock guitar sound. Lyrically, “Laundry Room” is a drab kiss on the cheek, however reaches poetic as brass notes begin to ooze forth. The piano led balladry on “Bound to Break” maybe the most telling song collected. Equal parts heart tug and tear, The Little Ships frame their musicality through melancholy and a penchant for lush musical declarations.
Finale “Bees on the Subway” breezes and directs routes familiarly forgotten. The nearly discordant squalls of guitar multiple, but instead of letting the noise ring out, Willman and co. nearly dropout, haunting the final words.
The Little Ships harbor plenty of talent and Like Shadows has the grasp of a universal narrative making anchoring near until the season blushes warm, a necessity.