Hollie Fullbrook’s debut album and other releases as Tiny Ruins have been critically lauded, as have her many live shows over the last few years. Brightly Painted One, her long overdue follow-up to Some Were Meant For Sea continues the exceptional journey of this New Zealand singer/songwriter whose reputation is now one that spans continents.
Fullbrook has a voice that sounds fragile, enchanting and quietly self-assured. It leaves its mark in the same manner as Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Nick Drake and Josh Haden (Spain) with its warm and wispy intimate folkiness. What makes Tiny Ruins special is the way she uses her instrument and applies it to equally mesmerising songwriting. While many of her earlier songs were populated with characters set in surreal scenes, on this album she takes a more general approach to subject matter with a stronger accent on the universe of emotions framed by a light psychedelia most fully realised on the mesmerising ‘Night Owl’.
Musically her time spent fleshing out the songs with other players and instruments has resulted in a richer and more immersive sound. Sympathetic and varied percussion, strings, brass and hammond and rhodes keyboards add to the enveloping feel of the music. A particular highlight is ‘She’ll Be Coming ‘Round’ with its tip-toeing verses and Fullbrook’s delightful rises into falsetto before the song takes a left turn and blossoms into a Bon Iver-esque outro with tumbling rhythmic propulsion, layered vocals and delayed and reversed electric guitar, something of a first in a Tiny Ruins song.
Brightly Painted One is an unassumingly soulful set of dreamy poetic songs that reaffirm the ability of Fullbrook as a songwriter and vocalist, whose music still sounds uniquely and effortlessly hers.
this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz