TINY RUINS' second album, Brightly Painted One, is the kind of musical work that sounds not just retro, but authentically vintage. One listen to the New Zealand band's gentle, wandering folk songs and you'll be flipping over the jacket, looking to see exactly where this thing originally fit into the '60s folk revival.
Despite its 2014 release date, Brightly Painted One—released in May on New Zealand's legendary Flying Nun label—deserves a spot on the same shelf as your Nick Drake and Sandy Denny collection, pairing the warmth and intimacy of the former with the honeyed voice of the latter. It is beautiful, yet understated. It stirs the soul without shouting even once—another quality that can be hard to find in 2014.
To be sure, Tiny Ruins' founder and songwriter, Hollie Fullbrook, is not some '60s fetishist born a few decades too late.
"I'm actually grateful to be living right now. Especially as a woman," she says. "I swing between absolute love for and absolute horror at humanity. I think, like many, I sometimes long for a different, less fragmented time. But at heart I'm usually thinking about the future more than the distant past."
Fullbrook started Tiny Ruins as a solo project in 2009 and earned global attention with her gorgeous 2011 album, Some Were Meant for Sea. She has since added old friends Cass Basil on bass and Alexander Freer on drums, and their presence is felt throughout Brightly Painted One, where Fullbrook's gossamer folk tunes are augmented with not only a rhythm section, but tasteful bits of keyboard, horn, and strings.
Still, Fullbrook is Tiny Ruins' core creative force, a glowing songwriting talent from the other side of the world who doesn't seem to quite fathom the potential of her music, or even where it has taken her so far.
"I always felt like my work was in the back of beyond—that people stumbled across it. I wasn't sure who was going to release Brightly Painted One, or where, until it was finished," she says. "I still feel that sense of being unheard. When you've been DIY-ing for years and just pootling along, it's a hard self-perception to shake."