While the number is surely growing in today’s technological world, the amount of bands and musical collaborations that have begun via text is miniscule. However, this serendipitous phone conversation catapulted Tim Villegas and Clive Staples into their musical endeavor, entitled Sally Sparrow & the Old 41. While the name might bring to mind folk tunes and country style, their album Never Far from My Mind explores many genres, including electronic, pop and experimental.
“Don’t Blink/Close To The Sun” begins with a haunting soundscape underlying a spoken word sample from Doctor Who that leads into the main portion of the song, characterized by synthesizers, repetitive yet catchy melodies and bright guitars. The next song “Window” infuses a bit more upbeat energy into the mix as pulsing synths and rapid drumbeats lay down a hypnotic groove.
The vocals maintain a relaxed tone throughout the album, even in the midst of seemingly chaotic instrumentation, such as in “Heart of It.” The next track on the record “Black Sheep” takes a sharp turn toward acoustic instrumentation as a lone piano accompanies a voice, almost as if the album itself is taking a breath before launching into more involved pieces like “Bury the Hatchet,” which imbues electronic elements with classic punk pop sounds.
The aura of “You Make Me” is perhaps most closely aligned with the folk expectations listeners may have when presented with a band called Sally Sparrow & the Old 41. Throbbing guitars echo among bouncing drums and light vocals, giving the song an overall optimistic atmosphere. There are few surprises in the final few tracks of the record, but “Clearly” is the band’s best piece as it successfully combines many unconventional techniques into an extremely enjoyable tune.
“The Appointment” and “Never Far From My Mind,” the ending songs on the album, are similar in some ways, but polar opposites in others. This sums up Sally Sparrow & the Old 41, as the band is able to navigate through many waters without abandoning their own ship, so to speak. This album is definitely deserving of many listens and listeners.
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