Sparrow and the Workshop - Into The Wild

posted 21 Dec 2009, 07:38 by Harry Cooke
[Distiller Records]
Released: 30th November 2009

by Joe Richardson

Formed in Glasgow under the heavy fog of yeast from the Tennents Factory in January 2008 
Sparrow and the Workshop are an American/Sottish/Welsh trio who blend elements of country and folk whilst singing about subjects that range from motor city to Seattle.  

If one things certain about this trio it's that they make beautiful, soulful music that managed to keep 6 people silent for the duration of the album when I put it on when some friends came round, a feat that has never before been achieved. The power of this album stems from it's simplicity which brings out the beauty in the performances of each member of Sparrow and the Workshop.

"You've Got It All" opens the album with a simple, strummed, guitar and lovely two part harmonies between Jill O'Sullivan and Gregor Donaldson but before powerful drums and cymbal crashes add drama and suspense to the song. O'Sullivans vocals range from the haunting to the powerful and assertive which adds a force to the song that very few other modern female vocalists could achieve.

Title track "Into The Wild" has a jagged, stop start kind of drum beat that underpins the song to create tension and drama underneath O'Sullivans vocals which, in this track seem wild and fluctuating between a whisper and a howl. This is simply a wonderfully constructed piece of... well I'm not quite sure what to call it as it could fit into so many categories of music.

There is also a vintage, 60's quality to some of their songs that evoke a feeling of a warmer time, 
"Crossing Hearts" is an example of this with it's bouncy drums and bass line with a easy going guitar line sitting over it. I can't help but think back to the sort of music that would be played on the Old Grey Whistle Test in terms of it's warmth and production values. That's not to say that Sparrow and the Workshop are stuck in the past at all, it's just that they are bringing feelings of less complicated musical times to mind.

The album closes with "Swam Like Sharks" where lazy sounding drums sit comfortably with a distorted slide guitar to give the whole track a off kilter country feel to it, before ending with the line "Before we say goodbye again". A great way to end a great album!

Anyone who is a fan of Bon IverFleet FoxesPeggy SueMumford and Sons or Laura Marlin really needs to get this album in their lives, you will simply love it. "Into The Wild" only seven tracks long but it leaves you craving for more of the band. Jill O'Sullivans vocals are brilliant throughout as is the musicianship of Nick Parker and Gregor Donaldson who work beautifully together to create an album that's rich and textured.