12 Songs, 49 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Andy Baxter has a voice you suspect could fill an auditorium, but he’d just as soon let it float from a chapel rafter or out a barn door. The Texan singer/songwriter is half of Penny & Sparrow, with guitarist Kyle Jahnke his erstwhile guitarist and musical partner. Their first album, 2013’s Tenboom, made great bedfellows with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, and even Iron and Wine, full of quiet spaces and palpable introspection. Struggle Pretty is no different, but perhaps it's a shade more soulful and solid. Baxter is an ace lyricist, and he wears his heart and self-criticism like a badge: “I’m not proud of me/So how could you ever be?” and “I wanna learn to hollow out” are a few of the moving moments here, delivered with a brokenness that's not yet beyond repair. “Bread and Bleeding” feels like a big radio tune waiting in the wings, with soaring, swelling guitars and strings, effervescent percussion, and tidal cellos reflecting bouts of hope. Quieter moments like “Rattle” and “To Haunt, to Startle” hover in the air on muted tympani and piano, strings quivering with uncertainty. A near-flawless collection of intimate, beautiful music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Andy Baxter has a voice you suspect could fill an auditorium, but he’d just as soon let it float from a chapel rafter or out a barn door. The Texan singer/songwriter is half of Penny & Sparrow, with guitarist Kyle Jahnke his erstwhile guitarist and musical partner. Their first album, 2013’s Tenboom, made great bedfellows with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, and even Iron and Wine, full of quiet spaces and palpable introspection. Struggle Pretty is no different, but perhaps it's a shade more soulful and solid. Baxter is an ace lyricist, and he wears his heart and self-criticism like a badge: “I’m not proud of me/So how could you ever be?” and “I wanna learn to hollow out” are a few of the moving moments here, delivered with a brokenness that's not yet beyond repair. “Bread and Bleeding” feels like a big radio tune waiting in the wings, with soaring, swelling guitars and strings, effervescent percussion, and tidal cellos reflecting bouts of hope. Quieter moments like “Rattle” and “To Haunt, to Startle” hover in the air on muted tympani and piano, strings quivering with uncertainty. A near-flawless collection of intimate, beautiful music.

TITLE TIME
1:00
3:24
4:16
4:39
4:54
6:00
4:47
5:16
4:16
3:02
6:28
1:41

About Penny & Sparrow

Indie folk singer/songwriter duo Penny & Sparrow formed in 2011 while members Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke were living as roommates at the University of Texas in Austin. Inspired by acts like the Swell Season, Bon Iver, and Mumford & Sons, the two friends began writing and singing together, creating simple acoustic arrangements and recording on a laptop. Their first effort, a three-song EP called Creature, introduced the warm, sincere balladry that would become their calling card. Their debut album, Tenbloom, arrived in 2013 and found their arrangements expanding slightly in scale. Their follow-up, Struggle Pretty, was released a year later, adding lush orchestral layers to their ever-evolving sound. The acclaim and attention garnered from these two independent releases ushered in a record deal with Single Lock Records, an Alabama-based label co-founded by John Paul White (the Civil Wars) and Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes). Both White and Tanner would end up co-producing Penny & Sparrow's 2016 label debut Let a Lover Drown You. A holiday set called Christmas Songs appeared later that year, Penny & Sparrow wrapped up sessions for their third LP, Wendigo, which was released in the summer of 2017. ~ Timothy Monger

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