Album Reviews

Album Review: Sparrow And The Workshop – Into The Wild (Distiller Records)

By | Published on Wednesday 2 December 2009

Sparrow And The Workshop

A mini-album of grand scope, ‘Into The Wild’ further builds on Sparrow And The Workshop’s already solid reputation. They continue to be buoyed by the still strong nu-folk wind but don’t let it completely control their direction. In fact, while there are obvious comparisons to be made with any number of mid-west country-influenced bands, frontwoman Jill O’Sullivan’s Chicago-accented vocals bring to mind a rough, punk drama, seeking the companionship of PJ Harvey or Patti Smith.

Despite all this talk of America, and O’Sullivan’s Chicago roots, the band are actually based in Glasgow. And so, as is often the case with bands hailing from that particular Scottish city, O’Sullivan gets some male vocal accompaniment on tracks like ‘Blame It On Me’ and ‘Jealous Of Your Heart’, in this case from bandmate Gregor Donaldson. Though the result is less twee than you might expect; there’s too much of the banshee in O’Sullivan and too much of the sinner in Gregor Donaldson for Sparrow And The Workshop to make the sort of delicate ditties you’d expect from, say, Belle And Sebastian.

As with former Belle And Sebastian type Isobel Campbell, in her subsequent musical partnership with Mark Lanegan, it’s the transatlantic mix that brings the greatest appeal. From Illinois to Caledonia, this is blues roots with the cynicism brought on by too many Glasgow summers. TM

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