Tiny Ruins captivates yet again

By Paula Yeoman

Fullbrook's new album showcases her talent, writes Paula Yeoman.

Hollie Fullbrook and her band will be in New Zealand next month to tour her album.
Hollie Fullbrook and her band will be in New Zealand next month to tour her album.

When Hollie Fullbrook wowed the world with her Tiny Ruins debut, Some Were Meant For Sea, in 2011, she did it alone.

But it's not such a lonesome existence for the Kiwi singer-songwriter these days. She's supporting Neil Finn on his European Dizzy Heights tour and, although it's just her and her acoustic guitar opening his show each night, the new album, Brightly Painted One, is very much the work of a band.

"When I recorded Some Were Meant For Sea I had this little clutch of brand new songs and I remember saying to Greg [Walker, the Australian producer]: 'What do you think? Should we include these?' And he said, 'No, they're quite new and fresh, maybe you should save them for the next album'. And I thought 'Yeah. And they need a band'."

It's given Brightly Painted One a fuller, gutsier sound than the delicate Some Were Meant For Sea. But it's no less captivating.

"I actually find the songs more challenging to play than the first album's material.

The guitar parts are trickier and the vocal parts have a ... more extreme range. The songs on the first album are pretty simple folk songs really," says Fullbrook. "It's also a more wholly conceived thing. I definitely see these songs as a group, rather than individual stories, like the first album was."

When she wraps up with Finn in Europe, Fullbrook will return to New Zealand in June to tour the new album, this time with her band. But she acknowledges that it's international markets like Britain, which will remain a big focus because it's where there's a thirst for her sound.

"There's a huge, huge tradition of folk music there. And it's kind of had this renaissance. I don't even know if I'd call myself a strict folk artist, but there has always been opportunities for us there."

Not that there isn't in New Zealand, she says. "Actually, some of the best tours we've done, the ones we've enjoyed the most, were in New Zealand. But it's that thing of needing to put yourself out there into a wider market to sustain it. And, you can only do so many shows in New Zealand every year before people get sick of you."

That's unlikely. Fullbrook is a rare talent and her new album cements that. Don't miss the chance to see Tiny Ruins live in June. It's a magical experience.

Brightly Painted One is out now. For tour dates visit tinyruins.com

- Herald on Sunday

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