Artist: Penny & Sparrow
Album: Let A Lover Drown You
Label: Single Lock/Thirty Tigers
Release Date: 03/11/2016
On Austin-based folk duo Penny & Sparrow’s latest album, Let A Lover Drown You, heaven is real. Eleven tracks shivering with fragility, honesty, and beauty, the record is nothing short of stunning. The guys behind Penny & Sparrow, Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke, have cultivated a deep, dark duality of heartbreak and recovery, having released two full-length albums and one EP of emotional tracks dealing with inevitable experiences that unite us as human beings, like living, loving, and dying. Penny & Sparrow already have a signature sound of buttery, luscious vocal harmonies and stripped-raw acoustic instrumentation.
The melancholy of Let A Lover Drown You almost feels like it’s doing the drowning as its title suggests, but in the most gorgeous, forgiving way possible. “Finery” opens up the record with a jarring crescendo, then falls to support Baxter’s undressed vocals for the rest of the track. Certain lyrics, like the hook “You’re wearing empty, dressed-up finery”, offer a message about being loved without hiding who one is, which is exemplified by the production of the track itself–almost entirely free of arrangement to allow natural, raw content. Though Baxter’s voice alone feels like a privilege to listen to, the harmonies that further enhance the musical experience can be found in small doses on “Catalogue” and “Gold”.
“Each To Each” has the kind of scratchy vinyl sound you’d hear on an Iron & Wine record while “Bed Down” has versatile vocal plays and romantic language we’ve come to expect from The Swell Season, but Penny & Sparrow’s sound is uniquely, and unapologetically, their own. Like true professionals, Baxter’s voice alternates between a gravelly baritone and smooth delicacy, and Jahnke’s compositions are deadly with gripping melodies and sweet, uncomplicated rhythms. On Let A Lover Drown You, Penny & Sparrow have their talent on full display; a presentation of haunting harmonies, profound insight, and expert instrumentation.