Saturday, January 18th
Penny & Sparrow
“Almost everything changed for us in these last two years,” says Andy Baxter, one half of the acclaimed duo Penny & Sparrow. “It was a painful experience in a lot of ways, but it was also a joyful one.”
Joy and pain walk hand in hand on ‘Finch,’ Penny & Sparrow’s magnificent sixth album. Written during their first major break from the road in years, the record finds the band reckoning with a prolonged period of intense personal transformation, a profound awakening that altered their perceptions of masculinity, sex, religion, divorce, friendship, vanity, purpose, and, perhaps most importantly, self. Deeply vulnerable and boldly cinematic, the resulting songs blur the lines between indie-folk and alt-pop, with dense string arrangements and atmospheric production underpinning soaring melodies and airtight harmonies from Baxter and his longtime musical partner, Kyle Jahnke.
Texas natives, Baxter and Jahnke first crossed paths at UT Austin, where they developed both a fast friendship and a deeply symbiotic musical connection. Jahnke was a gifted guitarist with an ear for melody, Baxter an erudite lyricist with a mesmerizing voice and crystalline falsetto, and the duo quickly found that their vocals blended together as if they’d been singing in harmony their whole lives. Beginning with 2013’s ‘Tenboom,’ the staunchly DIY pair released a series of critically lauded records that garnered comparisons to the hushed intimacy of Iron & Wine and the adventurous beauty of James Blake, building up a devoted fanbase along the way through relentless touring and word-of-mouth buzz. NPR praised the band’s songwriting as a “delicate dance between heartache and resolve,” while The World Café raved that they’ve “steadily built a sound as attentive to detail as Simon & Garfunkel and as open to the present day as Bon Iver,” and Rolling Stone hailed their catalog as “folk music for Sunday mornings, quiet evenings, and all the fragile moments in between.” In addition to the mountain of glowing reviews, the band also earned high profile fans—including The Civil Wars’ John Paul White, who produced 2015’s ‘Let A Lover Drown You’—and extensive tour dates with everyone from Josh Ritter and Johnnyswim to Drew Holcomb and Delta Rae.
Special Guests: Sorrel
Founded in 2015 by brothers Seth and Isaac Ratliff, Sorrel is an Appalachian indie band based out of Tri-Cities, TN/VA. Sorrel’s music is reminiscent of American traditional music like blues and old-time country while reaching out into folk, soul, and indie. The brothers' instrumentation—a mixture of guitars, keys, and banjo—provides a textured musical bed for their expressive vocals and evocative lyrics.
Seth and Isaac Ratliff grew up in Southwest Virginia—in coal country, the heart of Appalachia. Their musical style is informed by the bluegrass, country, blues, and gospel music they were surrounded by growing up, and their introspective, sometimes plaintive songwriting tone follows a tradition of lament established by mountain folk and mining songs in Appalachia and carried on by the likes of Doc Watson and Jean Ritchie.
Still, the brothers' modern influences are evident. Their warm, Americana-style electric guitars evoke a Real Estate vibe; their impressionistic lyrics and octave vocal melodies are reminiscent of Bon Iver; and their rich, reverbed vocals and layered studio harmonies call to mind Fleet Foxes.
With music that caters to both the new and the old, Sorrel perks up the ears of musical modernists and traditionalists alike.
Sorrel released Younger, their first studio EP, in November 2019. It can be found on Spotify, Google Play, or wherever music is streamed.