The Sparrows took their sweet time, but did it right.
The result is “Magnolia Sessions,” the Ellwood City band’s smartly crafted sophomore album that’s a sizable step forward for them as recording artists.
Songs like “Amphetamine” and “Gone Too Long” twang and bang in all the right places, though a larger majority of songs, such as “Truck Driver’s Daughter” and “Hell or High Water,” allow vivid and bittersweet storytelling to unfold more patiently.
Singer T.C. Davis conveys a world-weary wisdom I’d guess was gleaned while gripping a longneck, or else the steering wheel of a dented vehicle barreling down some lonesome side road on a late-night solo ride.
His Sparrows bandmates Corey Gray (bass and vocals) and Chris Gray (guitar and mandolin) find a sashaying groove that’s pure Americana and up to snuff for any Adult Album Alternative radio station. Guest fiddle player Luke Zacherl of country band NoMAD helps root the songs rurally, as fellow session man Chris Leonardi supplies the soul seasoning on B3 and Wurlitzer organ.
I intend to play lead-off track/likely single “Star Crossed Love” in a few weeks when I do my monthly guest stint on 91.3-WYEP. Or if ‘YEP morning co-host Cindy Howes lets me, I might opt for the harder coated “Amphetamine.”
Spectators might have heard the Sparrows sample some new songs this weekend during gigs at Thursday’s in Bridgewater and the Ambridge Eagles Club.
“Official” album release parties are set for June 14 at Club Cafe on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and July 27 at the Ellwood City Saxons Club.
“We worked very hard on this album,” Corey Gray said. “Probably put over a year and a half into it.”
That included 35 days in studio, which ain’t cheap, as any musician will tell you.
“Every time we would run low on funds, we had a series of gigs to replenish the band fund,” Gray said. “We definitely took our time. Some of the tracks we learned in-studio. This is as close to ‘The album’ we always wanted to make’ as we may ever get.”
Their patience paid off, as fans new and old soon will discover.
Photo by Justin Casalandra