Uplifting and free-spirited, Penny and Sparrow’s dreamy ‘Olly Olly’ basks in a sun-kissed reverie as the indie folk duo invite us to own our truths, embrace the present, and find our own dolce vita – a sweet life, lived well.
Stream: “Cheyenne” – Penny and Sparrow
The idea of calling out to everyone in hiding to reveal themselves and be free just resonated with us on a fundamental level. In a sense, that’s what we’re doing with this album.
A cathartic, radiant, and heartfelt soundtrack to spiritual renewal and a life lived well, Penny and Sparrow’s new album is the perfect way to start the day off right – not to mention a refreshing soundtrack for the top of 2022. Uplifting and free-spirited, the cinematic Olly Olly basks in a dreamy, sun-kissed reverie as the indie folk duo invite us to own our truths, embrace the present, and find our own dolce vita – a sweet life, lived well. “Fulfillment” means something different to every person; once you understand what that means to you, you can go out and get it, with a stunningly sweet album soundtracking every minute of that personal journey.
Audible POP in the hammock
(Gravity comes outta habit)
Land on our back get our breath kidnapped
Ain’t a kind of theft if you laugh whenever you can inhale
I wanna lay
Right here with you
For the whole day
Don’t wanna move til you say we should
– “Cheyenne,” Penny and Sparrow
Released January 21, 2022 via Thirty Tigers, Olly Olly arrives full of passion and purpose as Penny and Sparrow’s seventh album – and a resounding triumph of sound and the heart, at that. Olly Olly arrives three years after Penny and Sparrow’s critically acclaimed Finch, which racked up more than 40 global million streams and received praise throughout the industry – including from Atwood Magazine, who hailed the album as a masterpiece.
“Musically, Finch introduces elements of R&B along with head bops that pivot away from [the band’s] iconic folksy tone,” Atwood‘s writer Kelly McCafferty wrote at the time. “While evolution is present, the fundamentals of what have catapulted Penny and Sparrow to the level of success they see today stays present as well. Swelling strings, heart-melting harmonies and stories you can sink your teeth into; Finch has everything you want from a Penny and Sparrow album, and more.”
Three years and one pandemic later, we come to find Kyle Jahnke and Andy Baxter at home and in their element with music that radiates a certain special sun-soaked passion. As on Finch, the pair’s Americana and folk roots are still present in their art, but more so than ever before, they’ve been channeled through a soulful lens rich with vast, rich harmonies, glistening guitar tones, and space to breathe.
Olly Olly is truly Penny and Sparrow’s most cinematic – and stunning – work to date.
And to think, it’s their first self-produced album.
“It was our first time doing that and we are proud father’s to this little scamp of a record,” the pair – currently split between Waco, Texas and Florence, Alabama – tell Atwood Magazine. “It’s like we woke up with gills one morning after we released Finch, and so we decided to go swimming. Once we figured out how to breathe underwater, it was a total blast. Olly Olly is the first record after adopting a new breathing method.”
Longtime listeners of the band will surely agree that this album sees them reborn as something new: The artistry that began to change with Finch is fully realized and transformed in Olly Olly, a record named after that catchphrase heard around children’s games like hide and seek or capture the flag. “Andy and I talk about the process of making this record like a sort of musical Rumspringa,” Jahnke explains. “It was an opportunity to truly become ourselves, to evolve outside of the roles we’d been put in—or put ourselves in—because of the way we’d grown up.”
Ruined my favorite pair of jeans
Never looked up love
I was in soil, on hands and knees
Covered in Foxglove
I see em’ bow down when you sing
I heard the wind run
I saw your sundress start to cling
Color me turned on
I remember hoping you were everything
You were like lightning
You were the turn of the century
You were the reason, in hindsight,
I woke up
Now whenever you’re around
I (they) see you but I caint (can’t)
You’re an Alabama haint…
“The idea of calling out to everyone in hiding to reveal themselves and be free just resonated with us on a fundamental level,” Baxter says. “In a sense, that’s what we’re doing with this album. I won’t spoil the results of a fun google search because it sounds fun (and a bit petty) to make you work for it… Thus, I invite you to do a small amount of research on what the origin of Olly Olly is in different tongues.”
“Oooh!” he adds. “I just realized I’m making you play a game to discover the origins of an album title that was derived from a game!! How accidentally meta of me.”
The good writers at Atwood Magazine did a bit of the legwork for you, dear reader: In some European languages, the phrase “Olly, olly, oxen free” (and its derivatives) roughly translates to “all are free,” whereas in others it means “go, go, go, come in free.” All interpretations invoke a sense of freedom; likewise, this album finds Penny and Sparrow freer than ever.
As they sing on the tranquil “Eden/Lia,” “Alley and ramble like a dog in heat, wanna be olly, olly oxen free”…
All of them trapdoors
Several billion, I ain’t got time for em’
Tell me that one again, how’s it go yeah?
I mean the one with so many burning
Aaahhh… Slap a knee
Ahhhhh… Tryna let it go
Ko’d all the “woe is me”
Alley and ramble like a dog in heat
Wanna live olly olly oxen free, aight
Tell me you’re smelling the elephant fire in the corner
Or Is that over your border
You delicate hoarder
Lovers and theramins, I’ll be comparing em’ daily.
Both of em beg ‘be subtle’ but say
“Come and play me”
“I can think of two ways that Olly Olly introduces us,” Jahnke says on the subject. “First, as full producers on their solo maiden voyage. Second, for anyone who’s never heard of us before, I think Olly Olly would be a solid starting point. It’s our most eclectic album of sounds and words and melodic ideas. Also, we looked up after the record was finished and were so proud of how we’d done and how much better (in many aspects of our individual and collective crafts) we’ve gotten.”
Highlights abound on an album that inspires and rejuvenates, lighting a spark inside.
Opener “Adeline” served as the band’s first follow-up to Finch back in late 2021, and it makes for an equally moving album introduction now. In step with its parent record, the song is all about letting go and breathing freely; about dwelling in a brighter space after relenting and going with life’s natural ebb and flow. Intimate and effervescent, it’s a beautiful show of emotional radiance from Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke that
There’s something beautiful, if also wondrous and mildly bittersweet, about accepting life’s big unknowns: Of surrendering to powers outside our control, accepting the things we do have agency over, and living our lives to the fullest outside of the shadows of fear and dread. Penny and Sparrow’s new single “Adeline” – the duo’s first original release since 2019’s acclaimed sixth studio album, Finch – is all about letting go and breathing freely; about dwelling in a brighter space after relenting and going with life’s natural ebb and flow. Intimate and effervescent, it’s a beautiful show of emotional radiance – one made with deep love, or as the band once described, “it’s an unexpected kiss from your hot agnostic friend.”
My Adeline, I’m on the road
Feeling Semper Fi, missing those pheromones
Optional clothes, send me a sign
Call and tell a damn fine joke, hotel FaceTime
Whether There’s a god or there’s not a god
Inside the bright light… I won’t make you pick a side
When it comes to their own favorites, the band are better at highlighting lyrics they love than honing in on one or two songs – “At the very moment, I’d have to say that ‘Eden/Lia’ and ‘Innkeepers’, or ugh, I don’t know…” Baxters says. “‘Lacuna’ and ‘Voodoo’? They’re all good!” The band’s favorite lyrics include:
“My Adeline, if they end up calling roll we can both stow away, why not babe? Ain’t they all about grace?”
“What if roommates hear us? Blessed be the fearless. Let em’ bear witness.”
“Tell me you’re smelling the elephant fire in the corner…or is it over your border you delicate hoarder?”
“No blood, No revenue” is a sweet way to say “no pain, no gain”
The beauty of Olly Olly lies in its grace as a singular work of art: Its individual songs are wondrous and vast (“Need You” is a sweet, vulnerable upheaval, and “Cheyenne” is a soft world of warmth and connection), but nothing compares to the full album’s journey. By the time the filmic orchestrations of the elegant (yet so unassuming) “Innkeepers” fade into the intimate, ascendant finale “Get Along,” Penny and Sparrow have succeeded in conveying a feeling of freedom and possibility to their audience: They’ve opened our ears and our hearts to a world whose glass is half full, and already spilling over.
I don’t know but I recall that whole dream,
I was always shit at that.
We were at a drive-in, junior mint kissing clean
We were parked in the back.
They were showing some A24 pair I’d seen,
Beautiful & full of sad,
And then I get so light headed like her on the screen,
Might be going mad
Somehow in the dream you knew that my heart would break,
You said, “when you can’t find quite enough air there to take,
Copy how I breathe”
We were doubled up & crying
You were right there by me
See how I need you
Everyone gives up the ghost, us too…
Let it be known,
All the proud hours I hold are around you…
See us in red & black…
mirrored white ocher hues….
I won’t give one thing back
That’s how bad I need you…
As for Jahnke and Baxter, they hope their listeners take away the same thing they took from creating Olly Olly and now putting it out. “Many many many many many rooms full of good things.”
Penny and Sparrow have hit a new high, and they’re soaring in a sweet n’ soulful reverie. We would be remiss not to call Olly Olly another resounding masterpiece. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Penny and Sparrow’s Olly Olly with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their breathtaking seventh LP!
Stream: ‘Olly Olly’ – Penny and Sparrow
:: Inside Olly Olly ::
…like how you don’t know what happens after you die but you’re in love RIGHT NOW & you aren’t dead yet.
….like when the romance goes sour and your pals don’t understand and you reminisce about the good-times
….like how it is when the relationship is fucked up but you stay because (sometimes) they affect you better than good drugs.
Baking in the Summer:
…..like when you spend your whole summer making bread, love & hazy music.
….like when you get a mild concussion from falling out of a hammock and you maybe murder somebody in your sleep.
….like how getting someone biopsied from your memory is not a foolproof process.
….like how your rage fatigue devolves into a punchline and then grows up to become a weathered serenity.
….like when you use the Beatitudinal format to retell the story of losing your virginity but you make it cooler by adding D’Angelo on vinyl.
….like how you catch up with an old friend, get drunk, and realize too much has changed.
….like when you break the 4th wall and tell some folks “I love you” and tell other folks “don’t worry about me, worry about yourself”
….like when you cross compare yourself to Victor Hugo villains using a (mostly) Rustavelian Quatrain template.
…..like how love songs can be for best friends and/or someone you sleep with at the same time.
— — — —
? © Jake Dapper
:: Stream Penny and Sparrow ::