Originally started as a solo project by guitarist/vocalist Caleb Cordes in 2009, Sinai Vessel has since transformed into a permanent three-piece with the help of high school friends Daniel Hernandez (bass) and Joshua Herron (drums). ‘Brokenlegged’ marks their first release as a collective, yet is firmly a labour of love for Cordes. Unsatisfied with the first sessions, the album was recorded twice, allowing this collective approach to come to the fore.
On the surface, ‘Brokenlegged’ is a comforting emo/indie-rock record that is reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie’s better days with hints of Bright Eyes and Pedro The Lion throughout. Nevertheless, Cordes and company produce a collection of focused and endearing numbers that grows with each listen.
At the core is Cordes’ self-awareness as he assesses his Evangelical Christian upbringing and his disconnection from those values. ‘Looseleaf’ serves as an internal battle as he looks to distance himself from his former beliefs, while ‘Down With The Hull’ addresses the relief of separation and the realisation that his decision was correct; “I can see new avenues / now there’s above around and under / where once there was just through”.
With such rich and emotive lyrics, It no doubt that Cordes’ words deserve to be explored with intrigue. Each song is carried with insight yet is open to interpretation. ’Birth Blood’ gives the impression of frustration as Cordes speaks about a mistreated, orphaned child, whereas ‘Dogs’ explicitly deals with Cordes’ upbringing, hinting that the beliefs he was taught are distant from reality. The intimacy of ’Died On My Birthday’ is a compelling, stripped-down slice of bitterness and loss, that when paired with ‘Cork of Worry’, offers a resonating conclusion. It drifts with breezy guitars and rolling drums as Cordes’ once again questions his disconnection; “I’m afraid I’ve spent the life I could have had in truth”.
Of course, the flipside of such a thematically dense album is that ‘Brokenlegged’ struggles to connect at first. Yet, with a bit patience, you’re rewarded with an engaging record that will win you over.
‘Brokenlegged’ by Sinai Vessel is released on 27th January on Tiny Engines.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)