Australia seems to be the go-to place for those in search of fresh music. Desert cuts the dessert! Straight out of Sydney comes a singer-songwriter Indigo Parke with her folk debut echo.
The album was recorded between LA, Italy and New York and is out now via Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones label. Adrianne Lenker, the frontwoman of New York-based indie band Big Thief is one of the producers. This band’s musicians James Krivchenia and Max Oleartchik participated in the making along with Nick Hakim and Shahzad Ismaily, also one of the five producers.
However, despite the whole crew behind it, echo is a personal album that has only one name and face and that is of Indigo Sparke. That seems to be her real name. Her parents were jazz musicians and they named her after the Duke Ellington song, Mood Indigo. (Take a hint!)
The photo we see when we enter Indigo Sparke’s official website, reminds me woefully of the cover of Carol King’s Tapestry. It’s there in the hair and at the window. After all, it is folk music of female provenance (if that’s not the f-word yet). Yet the bareness of that very artwork creates a series of associations evoking something else. It’s grainy and there are no friendly cats in the frame. I can almost hear the emptiness, or should I say “echo.”
The first song, ‘Colourblind’, sets the mood very well. In the words of Dylan, the Bard: “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”. We feel the dull pain and the loneliness, but it’s not as overwhelming as it is with e.g. Emma Ruth Rundle or Angel Olsen.
While they tend to tear you apart with piercing vocals, the voice of Indigo Sparke comes in peace. Still, she was born with a shade of blue(s) in her name and she sure carries it around like a true female cowboy.
If we didn’t get it at first, with ‘Undone’ we become sure this is an album about love, loss and grief. And right when we think we’re in a loop, ‘Bad Dreams’ comes with something different both in sound and imagery. The guitars are not obtrusive, her voice dominates the soundscape and it really takes you back to all those great songs written about deserts. Also, it makes me regret I’ve never really visited a landscape of the sort.
The simple strumming and fingerpicking are hypnotizing and some of the songs can be read like mantras, ‘Dog Barks Echo’ definitely. ‘Baby’, on the other hand, can be read as a lullaby. It would be a good choice to close the album with, but I guess “Everyone is dying” had to be one of the last words uttered on the album. My pick for the favourite would be ‘Golden Age’, the most electrifying of the songs.
Indigo Sparke’s debut album is simple and quiet. What we get is her voice accompanied by a reverb guitar. Somehow that is enough. In the words of another American Bard: “Simplicity is the glory of expression.” Indeed, dear Walt. Sullen people of the world embrace your weekly dose of indigo.
echo is available to buy or stream here.