I just happened to be listening to this first full album from Broken Boat on a calm day last week after the British storms had passed, and the fact that the songs created a perfect backdrop to my setting tells you a lot about the make-up of Small Defeats. This collection of heartfelt songs is made that bit more intimate thanks to the home recorded nature of the album. Starting out as a five-song demo, it became a full-length record when the band realised they had struck gold with their surroundings and we can all be very grateful for that.
There’s a real openness about the songs – there’s a sense that you’re hearing the pain of loss and the winds of hope throughout with Daniel Behrami’s vocals ripping into your heart as he regales eleven folk inspired tales with multi-instrumentalists Brendan Kearney and Jess Hart surrounding it all with inspired playing.
Opening and title track ‘Small Defeats’ is an intriguing celebration of loss in many forms. Wasted years and relationships that Behrami, in his narration, hopes to be broken lead into an acceptance, and even a joy, that in hurt we can learn a lot more about ourselves. The chorus sums up the message with “And the dry season’s coming, oh it’s coming / What you need is to keep your options wide / All this time I’ve been thinking, just thinking / In defeat we truly come alive / And I’m alive.”
‘Pencil Memories’ is an emotive track based on losing touch with friends while ‘Night Owl’ sees Behrami reflect in sorrow over a bygone relationship with sweet regret once again. The tender and vulnerable love letter ‘Water and Wine’ captures that feeling of being that close to another with raw lyrics of “You’re my saviour, my lover, my reason to bother all in one / And the day you die will be the end of time,” closing the track in a simple yet effective manner.
The contrast of upbeat instrumentals and reflective words returns in ‘God Writes Fiction’ before ‘Morning Rain’ showcases Hart’s vocals in conjunction with Behrami’s to beautiful effect giving two sides of a crumbled relationship that’s seen both boy and girl realise that the other isn’t the same person as they first fell for.
The themes of loss and hope that run through the album continues in ‘Song in D’ while ‘Basement Days’ is a celebration of the ordinary joy of hanging out with friends. Small Defeats closes out with the whimsical ‘Two Balloons’ and a concluding evaluation ‘Time Takes Us All’ which is a perfect summing up of the message of optimism in defeat that this fantastic album delivers.
The release comes just in time for the band to head out on a full UK tour that also takes in the Boomtown and Just So Festivals and on the back of Small Defeats they’ll be playing to some packed out venues throughout. It’s a record that sinks into the heart, pulls it around a few times and then breathes new life into it just at the right moment and it’s one that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Words: Danny Brothers