Los Angeles-based alternative pop-rock duo Ships Have Sailed have long been among my favorite indie acts, and I’ve featured them on this blog a number of times over the past three years. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post.) Consisting of singer-songwriter and guitarist Will Carpenter and drummer Art Andranikyan, they write thoughtful, uplifting lyrics, which they adorn with dreamy melodies and sublime arrangements, and deliver with outstanding instrumentation and Will’s stunning vocals. They’ve released quite a bit of music over the past eight years or so, and have been on a particularly creative streak since the beginning of 2019, starting with their gorgeous single “Escape”. They’ve subsequently released five more excellent singles, their latest of which is “Breathe“, a beautiful song of optimism and strength that dropped January 27th. The song was written by Will, Art and Kelsey Mira Duennes, and produced by Will. The exquisite strings were played by Dan Hange.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Will in person on two occasions, and follow him on social media, where he frequently connects with his followers and posts positive and hopeful messages. He sometimes opens up about his own fears and insecurities, which I and many of his followers can certainly relate to. He was inspired to write “Breathe” by reflecting back on his own dysfunctional family and difficult upbringing, as well as the incredible resilience people have shown throughout the pandemic that’s upended so many of our lives. He told the webzine Earmilk, “’Breathe’ is the exploration of what our traumas and our inner demons can do to us over time…how they can isolate us from those we need the most, and how they ultimately have the potential to be our biggest downfall.” The song urges us to step back and take a deep breath, face our personal demons and traumas with a clear head and the belief that we can – and will – get through this.
All Ships Have Sailed songs are wonderful, but I have to say “Breathe” immediately ranks among their finest. It starts off with a gentle, atmospheric feel, highlighted by hauntingly beautiful piano keys accompanied by gorgeous shimmery guitar, ethereal synths, finger snaps and subtle percussion. Will breathily croons “All those secrets we keep inside / Run, run, run, hide, hide, hide until we stumble in the dark of our lies.” The song expands in the bridge into a dramatic anthem with soaring strings and thunderous percussion, the emotion in Will’s vocals rising along with the music as he fervently sings “Heart is racing, running for the light, I got to keep on breathing.” The music eventually calms back to the languid, soulful vibe we heard at the beginning, and by song’s end I’m covered with goosebumps, always a sign of a beautiful song that touches me deeply.
I’ve shared both Spotify and Soundcloud links of the song, so take your pick!