Josh Pyke : Only Sparrows
Trudging through the striking and bleak cityscapes of New York City in winter inspired Josh Pyke's third album, Only Sparrows, and urged the Sydney singer-songwriter to evaluate the manner in which adversity often summons courage, and in turn purpose, in an individual. Pyke's marriage of melodic clarity, shimmering melancholy and image-laden storytelling shines on Clovis' Son, Particles, Follow Me Down and Love Lies, but No One Wants A Lover and The World Is A Picture are glitches in an otherwise beautifully arranged album.
Between the release of Only Sparrows and its predecessor, Chimney's Afire (2008), Pyke travelled broadly, formed super-group Basement Birds and recruited skilled musicians to contribute arrangements rather than attempting to be a one-man band. It's for this reason that Only Sparrows is more diverse in its lyrical and musical scope. Pyke's wistful folk-pop has always possessed a sensitive earnestness, but he's most potent in his universal evocation of vulnerability and longing, as demonstrated by his wondrous duet with Katy Steele, Punch In The Heart .
The charming troubadour's lower register and finger-picked guitar melodies in Coffee Cups and Factory Fires give rise to affecting harmonies that are elevated by stirring string accompaniments. By ignoring the first single and listening to Only Sparrows in its entirety, listeners will be drawn into an album abounding in gorgeous instrumentation and evocative narratives.
Best Track: Particles
If You Like These, You'll Like This: Basement Birds BASEMENT BIRDS, Wicked Man's Rest PASSENGER, Isbells ISBELLS
In A Word: Accomplished