Unbelievably good. Overwhelmingly, this album feels comfortingly familiar – especially if you have been to a Tiny Ruins’ gig or two in the past year. In terms of sound it is similar to last year’s ‘Haunts‘ EP, except with more instrumentation.
Hollie Fullbrook has brought in a talented crew including Tom Healy (Paquin), Siobhanne Thompson (Bannerman), and Finn Scholes (Carnivorous Plant Society) to provide violin, brass, keys, and more, alongside her regular band of Cass Basil on bass and drummer Alex Freer.
Recorded by Healy at his Auckland studio between February and July of last year, and mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE, ‘Brightly Painted One‘ presents 10 tracks of beautifully composed music matched with stunning lyrics. Consider the opening track, Me at the Museum, You at the Wintergardens and its line, “Nobody feels old at the museum, and nobody feels cold at the Wintergardens,” and Straw Into Gold‘s lyric, “You’re a soldier; it’s okay / telling yourself it’s okay / to spin straw into gold,” (underpinned by a wonderful Wurlitzer played by Fullbrook).
Some critique of this album has focused on its apparent lack of progression sonically from ‘Some Were Meant For Sea‘, Tiny Ruins’ debut LP. I instead think this does it exactly right – keeping true to the sound of Fullbrook’s more solo works and keeping her front and centre, while integrating the band well. Instrumentation is rarely heavy, but used well – for example in the coda shift of She’ll Be Coming ‘Round. Those who have enjoyed the delicate folk of Tiny Ruins in the past will surely be beyond pleased with ‘Brightly Painted One‘ – a beautiful album all round.