“What is the distance between love and fear, the distance between words and silence, the space between the body and mind and the soul, the landscapes between lovers. I don’t know. It’s a pendulum. I’m trying to find a gentle home inside of the trailing questions and the wind and the sky.” Indigo Sparke wrote this in the essay attached to the premiere of her ‘Colourblind’ video, touching in her art line by line what is fleeting and impenetrable. These questions reverberating around the stories of love, lust, dreams and decay seem to be the substance of her debut album Echo. It hits the listener with the delicate power of her voice.
The Australian singer-songwriter established herself on the local music scene in 2016, releasing herself-produced EP Night Bloom. Her career started gaining momentum when she released the critically acclaimed single ‘The Day I Drove the Car Around the Block’. The next stop was a showcase on the SXSW stage, when NPR’s Bob Boilen was taken by Indigo, and then presented her songs in All Songs Considered and invited her to do a Tiny Desk concert in early 2020.
During the Australian tour, Indigo met Adrianne Lenker and formed an instant connection . The Big Thief’s frontwoman is co-producer of Echo. The LP was recorded between LA, Italy and New York with the additional support of other Big Thief musicians: James Krivchenia (drums) and Max Oleartchik (bass guitar).
Opening track, ‘Colourblind’, with its catchy acoustic guitar line and Indigo’s soaring soprano, is a bittersweet love song. ‘Undone’, a song about life’s lull, has a pretty similar tone and structure. ‘Bad Dreams’ brings haunting emotional vocals accomplished by mesmerising fingerpicking. The melody gets a bit darker in ‘Carnival’. It boils with emotions, having the space of vast deserts at the same time.
In the midst of the album ‘Dark Bark Echo’ brings a mystery. It falls somewhere between a poetry recitation and a song, so fresh and sensual that while listening you can feel the velvet touch of air in some beautiful place in Italy. ‘Golden Age’ picks up the pace with a simple strummed electric guitar; it’s probably the most dynamic song on the whole album. “I’m burning, I am wet, I’m an ocean for you / You’re the moon and I’m the wolf,” Indigo sings in ‘Wolf’. It’s hard to find such a ballad seething with passion, expressing so explicitly a woman’s desire.
‘Baby’ – the first single from this album, is a tender guitar lullaby, again featuring Adrianna Lenker’s voice in background harmonies (these two voices beautifully match). The album ends with a brimful of melancholia ‘Everything, Everything’. Fingerpicking sounds like wind and running water while Indigo sings angelically: “Everything is dying / Everything is simple.” The lyrics sound devastating, but there is also something calming in this awareness of mortality, the undisturbed circle of vitality and decay.
The one, special tone and just a couple of chords – it’s enough to pull at your heartstrings, because music is all about the feeling, isn’t it? Indigo Sparke’s debut album has a simple consistent structure – her voice and reverb guitar play the main role but with many different subtle shades. And you want to go anywhere this voice can take you.