Spunk & Arch Hill (Australia, NZ), Flying Nun Records (USA), Bella Union (UK/EU)
Brightly Painted One
New-Zealand based indie-folk threesome released their new album Brightly Painted One via Bella Union on May 5th and prepare for their North American release with Flying Nun Records on May 13th. Originally formed as a solo project of Hollie Fullbrook, the band now includes Alexander Freer and Cass Basil. The sophomore release is the band’s way of paying homage to their life for the past three years, highlighted by touring, relationships and the ups and downs of living.
The ten-song album is a perfect encapsulation of the folk-pop genre, characterized by swaying soft percussions, finger-picked acoustic and for this album particularly, the use of brass accompanied by the soothing nature of Hollie Fulbrook’s voice. The poetic nature of the songwriting creates calming imagery for the listener and the nostalgic deliverance of the lyrics adds to the sense of calm induced by the songs. The opening track from the album, “Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergarden,” dwells on the tragedy, and perhaps the fragility, of relationships between two separate worlds. The line, “Nobody feels old at the museum, nobody feels cold in the winter garden,” could be symbolic of the relationship that forms the crux of this song, signifying the age or personality gap between two people; with Fullbrook expressing interest in meeting at the mid-point between the two fields. The lyrical content throughout the album suggests the singer’s search for something new, demanding the subject of the song to spin her a story that “unwinds and sings” in “Carriages” and searching for an ideological “Reasonable Man,” a search that ultimately leaves her world “crumbling down.” In “She’ll Be Coming Round,” the singer is ready to witness change and claims that “old free will might be a myth but i’m trying to get me some.” Both Fullbrook’s voice and the lyrical content of Brightly Painted One bare similarity to other folk artists such as the British singer-songwriter Laura Marling.
From the start to finish, the album represents a journey of searching and self-discovery through the observations of everyday life. The strength of the album lies not in the ability of the artists to show-off their music talents but rather creating an environment for the listener. The minimalist musical arrangement not only perfectly accompanies but also places emphasis on the lyrics of Hollie Fullbrook, which are undoubtedly the differentiating and most laudable feature of the release.
Ultimately, Brightly Painted One is an easy-to-listen-to folk-pop album that is recommended for anyone looking to unwind over a collection of songs that have the ability to transport the listener through it’s scenic imagery and rhythmic melodies.