Rose Melberg made a name for herself in the nineties as a singer and guitarist for bands like the Softies, Tiger Trap, and Go Sailor. The prolific Vancouver-based musician has since successfully gone solo. While revered for her talent and earlier output as a band member, Melberg's latest solo release, Homemade Ship, makes a shy, serene entrance and has a difficult time leaving a strong impression.
Homemade Ship is a sparse yet pretty album. The barebones approach Melberg has taken by using only layered vocals and guitar is for both the better and the worse. Reminiscent of Iron & Wine, the album's sparse sound is inherently intimate, and Melberg's lyrics are often personal and heartfelt. In the touching "Truly," Melberg sings, "Come here better to hear me sing/Forget everything/How I made you cry." On "Old Days," Melberg casts a dreamy spell that is full of longing. Aptly named, the album does have a homemade and isolated feel to it. It conjures an image of Melberg cobbling together each track in a small room next to a fire.
But what Homemade Ship gains in simplicity, it seems to lose in dynamism. Larissa Loyva of Kellarissa and P:ano makes an occasional appearance on vocals and piano, but the majority of the album relies solely on Melberg's contributions. It's not that this approach can't work, but Homemade Ship doesn't seem to achieve a cohesive sound with distinct tracks that easily grab the listener. Most of the album's tracks, with their whimsical lyrics and soft guitar strums, could stand on their own, but together, they seem to spill over into each other, creating what often feels like one very long song.
The album is with merit, though. Melberg hasn't made it this far without knowing what she's doing. Homemade Ship is sleepy but not sloppy, lacking in twists but touching nonetheless.