Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke are an incredible duo. They make some unbelievable music and have insane musicianship. I first saw their group's name show up from Single Lock Records. A record label here in Alabama created by the man, the myth, the legend, John Paul White.
The album I heard from them first was “Let a Lover Drown You.” I really, really enjoyed what I heard so I went for more and decided to go earlier in their discography, as per usual. “Tenboom” was released in 2013 and it’s a keeper. It has beautiful melodies, harmonies, progressions, instrumentation, the whole nine yards plus a few.
It starts with an absolute power house song, ‘Just and Just As,’ which side note, is my favorite track on the album. The lyrics in the song are powerful and vivid and the guitar and strings fits right under it all as if they’re lyrics to the lyrics. Andy has an extremely versatile voice and really lets it rip here. He can be delicate on a line and turn around on a dime and give it everything he’s got, all the while keeping complete control.
I had the pleasure of seeing these guys live recently here in Birmingham at WorkPlay and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a while just out of sheer musicianship. Andy and Kyle have the entire range of dynamics under their belt and know exactly when and how to use it. They lighten the mood in between songs (considering a lot of their music is more on the somber side) and are two super funny dudes. ”It’s not a game, Kyle... it’s frustrating."
Kyle’s guitar parts, I feel, are extremely carefully chosen. There isn’t necessarily anything that you would hear and say, “man, that sounds difficult,” although that being said, to other musicians and anyone actually listening to his parts would say, “man, that’s extremely impressive.” Here’s why. He creates the atmosphere with the progressions and strums he chooses because he does not clutter the space it fills. He knows how to play soft. That is a feat that not many understand how to effectively do. Once you start understanding this perspective and trying it for yourself you can sit back and say, “man, that IS difficult.” It’s easy to get caught up in playing loud and have no dynamics because when you're singing, you typically focus more on your voice... which reminds me, he even adds harmonies to Andy... as if he wasn’t crucial already. Kyle, you’re the man.
The album is fairly short but packs a serious punch. They end it with a sort of two song build up where it starts skeletal and builds to a mountain top, much like the entire album, letting Andy stretch his voice like he does so well and letting Kyle build from nothing to filling the space with his single guitar and string accompaniment.
Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke are two very impressive musicians and I can’t wait for you to listen to their work so without further adieu, I present Penny & Sparrow.