Brightly Painted One
Flying Nun/Bella Union
I liked Tiny Ruins as soon as I heard her – her, because it was just singer/songwriter Hollie Fullbrooke, and lovely as Some Were Meant For Sea was (and is) I couldn’t help but do that thing and list out the obvious sound-alikes, a bit Beth Orton here and then more obviously – timing-wise – there was a similarity to Laura Marling. Cat Power too – because, well, girl-with-a-guitar, a bit of moroseness, sense of longing, that melancholy tinge turned to golden hue. Nothing wrong with those names, or sounding like them, or someone listing them out; the problem was that it was just as easy to reach for a Marling album as it was to bother with Some Were Meant For Sea.
But Brightly Painted One sees Tiny Ruins as now a band, in a sense – a band feel permeates, lovely brushed drums and mallets, gently stirring basslines thanks to Alexander Freer and Cass Basil. Sure, it’s still – and always – about Fullbrooke, that voice, those songs, but Brightly Painted One lifts her up and out and away from any bedsit cliché and places her – firmly, it seems – on the world stage. Opening for Neil Finn around Europe, being talked up in any and every sensible music publication. And here as well.
Brightly Painted One is more like something you could expect from Feist, or the reclusive Mary Margaret O’Hara, it’s where Laura Marling might go next, rather than seeming like where she’s just been. But quite outside and away from all these name-drop comparisons it’s the sound of a young singer/songwriter so comfortable in their skin. The songs on their own not always remarkable but as a whole, as a connected piece – 10 songs, no mistakes, no duds, an organic feel, quite timeless in fact – Brightly Painted One deserves all the praise it is getting and then some. It is like when you discover those Nick Drake records and you can’t quite work out why you’re so dazzled: is it just the voice and the soft furnishings of the arrangements? Or is it the worldview too – the sincerity that doesn’t at all seem like it is after your dollar, nor will it be appropriated in the way that fly-by-nighters like Jose Gonzalez or Michael Kiwanuka can seem like they’re there very portrait of stoicism and earnestness but are actually just after a payday. Or have been trapped in the system by someone after the payday on their behalf. Okay, so that’s hard to avoid, perhaps.
That might be the thing that resonates with me most about Brightly Painted One though – that in these flood-the-market/desperate-to-create-a-market times this feels like music for the right reason: a person singing of their soul in the spare time within their life; making time to make that connection.
It deserves more than I can say about it – but it really is lovely. So very lovely, and that’s not me being lazy, that’s just what I feel when I hear this. What it deserves is your time and your attention and all the kudos you can muster. For there’s something special in this – in these songs, in the feel behind these songs, in the way they’ve been shaped. There was always a clue that this was someone quite special. Here is the proof.