Tin Sparrow – Fair & Verdant Woods EP

Fair and Verdant Woods is the first EP of Sydney four piece Tin Sparrow. And it is a soothing soundscape that smells like fire and rain, best enjoyed eyes closed in a rocking chair on the porch of a weathered shack with a bottle of warm red. Somehow, Tin Sparrow take you back to a summer night in fresh country air spent with good friends and family.
“My Own” opens with ominous whistles that seem to squeal through an empty tunnel before trudging a long and winding journey over the countryside. First echoing in silence, the breathy premonition invites bellowing acoustics from a solid band of tinny guitars and distant ringing keys. The drums sit somewhere far in the background, edging direction like a wild river undercurrent. Double-snare hits and bells striking 2 and 4 slap the Bon Iver-sounding vocalist on the back, willing him along a trail of twisting train tracks: “I finally found a track that I can walk.”
Promising blankets of harmonies lift the songs, giving them a well-produced edge. A galloping snare is deepened with rolling jungle drums, and thunder rumbles in my ears. The instrumentation is relatively unchanging throughout the whole EP, and each song seems to stay the same colour, think earthy and warm, burnt reds and night purples – shades of the natural environment. Each song seems to blend into the next, creating one cohesive story and weeding out contradictions.  A whistling solo cuts the song in half and gestures for a slowly building crescendo underneath. Sure it is simplistic and repetitive, but intensity rises like heat from scorched cement in a storm.
“Sides” is a killer duet featuring on Fair and Verdant Woods, introducing the hearty tone of Sonja Van Hummel, the wistful brunette in the otherwise all-man band. Painting a warm loving haze, the two vocals engage in a careful call and response, while delicate fingers pluck sweet country melodies on steel strings beneath. The lyrics are minimalistic and it’s all about the vast and folkie atmosphere of a wild bush landscape. “It’s been a while since you spoke to me / I thought that we said we were gonna be friends.” Not catchy, but realistic, honest and unembellished.
Lacking in definitive hooks, each of Tin Sparrow’s tracks are moving, beginning with piercing oohs and cooing voices, animalistic in their starkness. “Azzuro” features shaking bells and a shining synth glossing the background. The mix of each track is impressive, and the occasional drop of drums into half time against unrelenting, manic folk guitar licks show the band are polished musicians as well as modern masters of the beckoning bush ballad.
by Phoebe Spinks

April 29th 2012
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