Tag Archives: penny and sparrow

Penny and Sparrow: Struggle Pretty

In January last year, I wrote a post about a band that I was completely blown away by on first listen. Penny and Sparrow is back with their second album as of Tuesday!

pennysparrowA good friend of mine introduced me to the Austin, Texas duo and on first listen, I had chill bumps. Second listen evoked tears. I knew I was hooked at that point. I’ve been listening to that album since. I follow them on Facebook and when I realized a new album was out two days ago, I bought it without a second thought. I’m just now getting¬† a chance to listen to it.

Serial Doubter really kicks the album off (after the intro track Jeffrey Alan) with familiar vocals deposited over increasingly dense instrumentation. The song has an easy-going tempo, but with drums that rock the hammock like a slow breeze.

Bread and Bleeding and Thunder really showcase the Mumford and Sons influence stylistically with the hyper guitars and trumpets or violins, respectively. The soothing vocals that you’re used to come in and somehow melt over the abnormally rapid instrumentation and create a totally new dynamic.

I am absolutely in love with Rattle. This was one of the first two songs the band released in the lead-up to the new album and I fell head over heels for this one. It sounds like the beautiful beginning to a thunderstorm – you know what I’m talking about, when everything gets really still and there’s just a bit of wind blowing but you know something more is on its way so you have a heavy feeling deep inside. I don’t want to rattle and I’ve got no plans to let myself be tossed away, but this muscle could never lift a thing without you anyway.¬†This band writes such gorgeous lyrics that sometimes I’m left speechless. They’re some of the most beautiful lyrics being written in music right now.

Reeth is the song I’ve been waiting for this entire album thus far (and this is nine tracks in). This sounds like a direct upgrade of the sound from Tenboom and it’s absolutely stunning. The guitar is so delicate that it almost feels like a balancing act trying not to tip over onto the vocals. I found myself holding my breath to listen a little more intently two different times.

The album wraps up with the entirely a capella Fantine. It seems a strange choice for a last song, but the lyrics serve better with nothing to distract from their impact. They’re stark and serious and darker than I was anticipating. So before I go saying you make a bad lover, I think that I’ll let you kiss me. I can not in good conscience wear white. If I’m honest, my wedding dress needs to be black. I’ve seen too much skin in the souls that live in it, I fear I’m the bride you give back. you take and you give. You give and you take.

Penny and Sparrow are some seriously talented musicians. I have no idea why more of you aren’t listening to them. Stop everything and do it right now.

 

Key Tracks
Reeth (track 9)
Rattle (track 4)
Fantine (track 12)

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Penny and Sparrow: Tenboom

When I’m at work, my coworker and I listen to a lot of Spotify. Obviously, eight hours a day in the office makes way for a lot of musical intake, especially when a lot of my time is spent staring at the InDesign interface. I got a text from one of my good friends a couple of days ago recommending a band. I know for a fact she has good musical taste, so I didn’t waste any time turning this album on in the office. And let me tell you – it was the most beautiful music I’ve heard from a band I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t have a listen to the whole album at that time – I wanted to wait until I was able to write about it here because believe me, you need to hear this. Here goes Tenboom by Penny and Sparrow.ten

This album, released January 8, begins with the quiet Just and Just As. The song fades in with soft strums of an acoustic guitar, a great way to enter into an album and a world previously untouched. Vocals come in just as softly, and the story telling begins. The vocals are so gorgeous, so full of emotion, that the response is mirrored in my being. When the chorus hits, I almost cried from how gorgeous it is. So come back to my house and I’ll give what they can’t offer. Let’s just lie on the couch and we’ll clean it up together. A mirage of stringed instruments come in, melding together to echo the powerful vocals.

One reason I was initially so struck by the band is the innate storytelling that’s hidden within the songs. I get so lost in music of any genre that can tell me a story while wooing my ear drums and Penny and Sparrow do all of the above. Bones is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s beautiful in such a striking way as a story is told over haunting and stark stringed instruments. Right now, everything is coated in ice outside, and this song could be played into the cold night air and would feel right at home. It’s still and quiet, almost fleeting.

The vocals have a robust, deep sense to them while still remaining elegant enough to fit perfectly with the acoustic nature of the music. During A Woman Caught in particular, I found myself turning up the volume time and time again to get all of the sounds in at once. Closing your eyes, you could lose your whole self in this song.

The album winds up in an interesting way with Patience, First and Patience, Please. Patience, First feels a little more emotional and desperate. Patience, Please is a little more subdued and quieter. Both songs are asking (or maybe begging) in different lights to Please come home. They’re handled so differently, one beginning desperate and one beginning delicate and escalating with each passing plea. Having two songs together that are each clocking in with just a minute and a few seconds is an interesting take to wrapping up the album and it leaves me wanting more with the slow fade out.

This album absolutely blew me out of the water. I had never even heard of the band, so I really had no preconceived notions and no idea what I was walking into when I received the text message recommending them. Wow, what a gem, though. You absolutely have to have a listen to this – I don’t care what genre of music you prefer. This is absolutely incredible. Check the band out on Facebook or Twitter – and find this album on Spotify!

 

Key Tracks
La Reyna (track 8)
Just and Just As (track 1)
Bones (track 6)

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