Close your eyes. Picture lying in an English meadow on a warm, summer day, a gentle breeze, a stream gurgling nearby, the hum of dragonflies and the fragrance of wild flowers in the air. Now, imagine you could capture that in music. Well, that’s the sound of New Zealand singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook’s sophomore album ‘Brightly Painted One ‘, recorded in hometown Aukland with bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer.
Sung in little more than a whisper, the songs, according to the label blurb, apparently “document the stasis and the movement of life; of persevering (sic) its humour and mystery.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, though listening to the beguiling acoustic rippling opening track Me At The Museum, You In The Watergarden, a pastel sketch of two attendants meeting at lunchtime that muses on the fragility of relationships, I’m more than willing to be seduced by the process.
Having set its minimalist tone, it never works up much more of a musical sweat, though that’s not to say there’s not a warmth suffusing the album, perhaps best experienced on Ballad Of The Hanging Parcel (that’ll be the stasis, then) with its gently jogging percussion, the strings that brush the surface of White Sheet Lightening while the guitar dances tiny arpeggios or the burnished brass glimmering through the slow waltzing Straw Into Gold.
Her songs largely concerned with relationships, Fullbrook’s fond of metaphors and poetic imagery, the lyrics, as with She’ll Be Coming Round, Carriages and Chainmail Maker (a track which conjures thoughts of Donovan’s Gift From A Flower To A Garden), often more complex than the musical arrangements.
Although, with its reverb guitar, Night Owl does slightly shiver the mood, sounding like some 3am narcotic lullaby, there’s not a huge amount of variation in either the music or Fullbrook’s voice, and a surfeit may prove equally cloying or anaesthetising, but taken in moderation it’s like bathing in a Radox waterfall.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released on Bella Union, May 5
TOUR DATES (UK & EUROPE)
01 – Opera House w/ Neil Finn, Cork, Ireland
03 – Royal Festival Hall w/ Neil Finn, London, UK
04 – Corn Exchange w/ Neil Finn, Cambridge, UK
05 – Royal Concert Hall w/ Neil Finn, Nottingham, UK
07 – Gloria w/ Neil Finn, Cologne, Germany
08 – Postbahnhof w/ Neil Finn, Berlin, Germany
09 – Carre Centre w/ Neil Finn, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
11 – Cirque Royal w/ Neil Finn, Brussels, Belgium
13 – Villa Neukolln w/ Bannerman 8pm, Berlin, Germany
14 – Hasenschaukel, Hamburg, Germany
15 – Schwarser Salon, Dresden, Germany
16 – Hauskonzert, Munich, Germany
17 – Bedroomdisco, Darmstadt, Germany
18 – Bedroomdisco, Nurnberg, Germany
19 – Les 3 Baudets, Paris, France
22 – The Glee Club, Birmingham, UK
23 – Grain Barge, Bristol, UK
24 – Heath Street Baptist Church, London, UK
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