Austin duo, Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke (AKA Penny & Sparrow) played their first show in Los Angeles Sunday night at The Hotel Cafe. As it was their first LA show, they were unaware of the Angeleno propensity to arrive “fashionably late” to any event and somewhat nervously joked that they were preparing to play a show for four people; their wives, the bartender, and the sound guy. The concern proved unnecessary as by the time they finished their first song, the rousing “Bread and Bleeding”, the room was filling out with fans and music lovers eager to get their fix.
For the uninitiated, Penny & Sparrow craft slow and beautiful folk tunes, proving that sometimes less is definitely more. Andy takes lead with a compelling voice that becomes haunting especially in its lower registers on songs like “Honest Wage”. Kyle supports with guitar and vocals, threading harmonies in and out of songs adding that elevating emotional punch.
The pleasant surprise of the night was not the beauty of the songs (that’s evident by listening to the record), but the humor and the warmth that filled the room as the duo played. From the heart-stopping a capella “Fantine” to their “one foot-stomping tune”, “Brothers”, the two singers transformed the energy of the bar to something more akin to a living room hang out. You knew they had the room when they prefaced their song “Stoic” with a comment about how the song contained everything you don’t want to say in an argument with your wife and as they sang the melancholy tune, the audience chuckled as they soaked up the lyrics in that context.
They closed the night with a captivating cover of “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing”, a hymn perfect for a reflective Sunday evening.
For more on Penny & Sparrow, check out their webpage: http://www.pennyandsparrow.com/
And definitely check out their recent album, Struggle Pretty, which has been a constant on my playlist lately.