Release Date: May 5, 2014
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Originally conceived as a solo project for New Zealander Hollie Fullbrook, Tiny Ruins has, with their second album (first for Flying Nun), become a band proper, with Cass Basil and Alexander Freer joining on bass and drums, respectively. Continuing on with the stylistic template laid out on 2012’s lovely, minimalist Some Were Meant For The Sea, the addition of Basil and Freer, plus a number of other assorted horn and string players throughout, helps take the already exceptional songs of Fullbrook to glorious new heights, fleshing them out with perfectly complimentary arrangements ideally suited for late-night listening and foggy, solitary Sunday afternoons. Reminiscent of Beth Orton, Cat Power’s younger sister (with a predilection for the British folk revival of the late-1960s) and the jazzier side of Norah Jones, Fullbrook’s voice is a lovely lilting instrument capable of the subtlest phrasing and an expert ability at finding the interesting spaces between notes.
Since her haunting 2011 debut as Tiny Ruins, New Zealand singer/songwriter Hollie Fullbrook has toured the world, earned considerable critical success, and expanded her quiet folk project into a trio. After an EP of demos in 2013, Fullbrook, along with bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer, signed with Britain's Bella Union label and recorded their follow-up, 2014's gently austere Brightly Painted One. The expansion of the band and subsequent move to a larger record label have affected Tiny Ruins only in the subtlest of ways.
Tiny Ruins started as a solo project for New Zealander Hollie Fullbrook. For this second album it’s now a proper band, with bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer augmenting a quiet, precious sound. ‘Brightly Painted One’ has the dynamics of folk – Holbrook’s wavery trill falls somewhere between Laura Marling and Sandy Denny; acoustic guitar is plucked and picked – but stately horns and Rhodes piano shape a kind of country-soul.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The very fact that Tiny Ruins are signed to Bella Union should be enough to provide some indication as to the quality of their output; Simon Raymonde's label has long had scant regard for mediocrity. They began as the solo project of Hollie Fullbrook, who dealt primarily in emotional truths on their first LP, Some Were Meant for Sea; in the intervening three years, they've toured the world with the likes of Beach House, Joanna Newsom and Fleet Foxes.
Hardcore punk often plays out as a series of strategies to get your attention in a headlock; many of those strategies, after more than three decades, have become old. But a woman’s voice, incredulous, righteous and forceful, can still do it regularly. There are a lot of really good female-fronted hardcore bands in the Bay Area right now: Permanent Ruin, Replica, No Statik, Ritual Control.
Ah, think of it…girl meets boy, a gaze through a museum window, inside looking out, to the garden. They rendezvous on the lawn midday to share in a bite of lunch and coy pleasantries. Sounds awfully twee, huh? It is that, and also exceedingly comfortable and pleasant, yet a quietly thrilling setting many of us have partaken in, so it’s satisfyingly familiar as well.