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.

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