Ship of Fools
When you unwrap Ship of Fools, the debut album from Brooklyn's The New Students, spend a moment with the original painting on the cover. A trio of musicians sits in a whimsical land peopled by their trusty instruments. Their boat may seem high-and-dry, but press play and you'll join them on a journey without even raising your sails. The New Students will take you from a tour of romantic rejection through the capitals of 'Europe,' to the "Jefferson County Line" and a mixed-up flight from justice. Their boat hits water with the jaunty 'Faerie Ship,' only to drop you off in the New York City subway with the heart wrenching 'Trouble." Not all of the journeys on Ship of Fools are to far-away places. 'Lazy River' takes you through the excitement of love newly born, while 'Last Year,' beautifully rendered in Briana Carlson-Goodman's honey-smooth vocals, leaves you in the ashes of love long burnt out. 'How Long' gives voice to the frustrations that make us afraid to speak out and protest; but soon you'll be singing along with 'Seeds' in the best tradition of Pete Seeger. In the hauntingly beautiful title track, the weary tones of Matt Gelfer's banjo seem to signify that the march of time slows for no one, and we are all shipmates on our way to the inevitable end. Justin Flagg's maverick songwriting and clear lead vocals neatly tie together an impressive array of styles, from the straight bluegrass of 'Seeds' to the off-kilter country of 'Take Me Home." The rich, smartly arranged harmonies are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash. The occasional fiddle solo or mandolin lick from multi-instrumentalist Matt Gelfer adds a sparkle and sheen to the folky strum of the acoustic guitar, the satisfying thud of Sam Gelfer's upright bass and the whimsical, clever percussion of Jason Rosoff. With so many styles represented on a single disc, listeners will find that there's something for everyone.