June/July 2013

by Maddie McIntyre

Fresh Talent: Eb & Sparrow

by Maddie McIntyre

Fresh Talent: Eb & Sparrow

A labour of love. Wellington-based five-piece Eb & Sparrow, was born – like most good country bands – out of heartbreak. Lead singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist, Ebony Lamb, started playing and writing music three years ago, after a difficult split from her long-term partner.

“The rug was completely pulled out from underneath me,” she explains. “My heart was so broken and I just needed something to distract me, I needed a change.”

So Lamb taught herself guitar and turned to country music for support. Her warm, blues-inspired vocals, backed by soft, throbbing percussion and eerie, melancholic guitar, take you back to the traditional songs of a wild and barren American frontier, simultaneously offering up an introspective and universally-moving experience.

Speaking in a quiet café in Wellington central, Lamb meditates over those humble beginnings, inspired by Christchurch-based rock-roots band The Eastern.
“I remember watching them play at the Paekakariki Bowling Club. I just stood there transfixed and realised… this is what I wanted to do for life.”

Encouraged by the supportive Wellington folk community she started performing solo gigs at the since-closed Ruby Lounge.
“I was so nervous… I only really knew a few chords and had three songs… but everyone loved them.”

Eb & Sparrow really kicked off when Lamb teamed up with Bryn Hevldt, who she met through a mutual friend, and began recording some of her original material at his home studio.
“I started getting so much [material] that I got really quite worried… If I didn’t get it all down I’d forget it.”

Contributing to the tracks with layers of his own guitar, Hevldt helped her to construct the earthy, heartbreaking sound that has earned the pair much national and international interest.

Shortly after releasing their first EP, ‘The Hearts Arrow’, in late 2010, they were joined by drummer Nick Brown, who helped them complete their second release, ‘Not for Light Years, in June 2011. The remaining members of the band, bassist Jason Johnson and trumpet-player Chris Winter were quick to follow, completing the current line-up.

2013 has been a busy year already for Eb & Sparrow, with the alt-country-blues band emerging from nowhere to take out prized opening spots for artists such as Rodriquez at TSB Arena in Wellington, and Anika Moa in Carterton a week later. Most recently, they were asked personally by country-folk star Beth Orten to open both her Wellington and Auckland shows. They have no intention of slowing down.

Having spent the Easter period recording with Ben Edwards in Lyttleton, the bands first full-length album is well under way and due to be released later this year. In the meantime, both EPs are available for purchase on the Eb & Sparrow bandcamp, along with a free download of the single, In the Harbour, from their upcoming album. Non-Wellingtonians can contact the band through their official website or Facebook page and theyll be happy to post one out.