Concert Review: Tiny Ruins Whammy Bar,  July 28, 2021

Celebrating 10 years since the release of debut album Some Were Meant For Sea, Tiny Ruins (aka Hollie Fullbrook) takes the stage at Whammy solo, guitar in hand, stories to tell.

This is presented tonight as a defining trip through time and space, and a period of transition from youth to the future artist. The songs are played in album sequence because that is the story.

Tiny RuinsA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman.

Old as the Hills. Traditional Folk and taps into the origins of Americana. The acoustic guitar plays autoharp tones to evoke the pioneering spirits that were the Original Carter Family.

Priest With Balloons was a news story and the music floats into the sky and dances. The circular guitar rhythms touch lightly on Van Morrison’s Ballerina.

Literary references abound throughout.

Death of a Russian is a meditation on author Anton Chekhov but it also serves as a death song. The guitar plays a reel-style riff. The ancient cadences that this song can conjure gives it some of the atmosphere of the second Band album. Quiet and haunting and the past speaks to the present.

Adelphi Apartments is a story of Rosie who at night she read Cannery Row/ Before saying goodnight/ to the highway below. Dylan’s Visions of Johanna is borrowed a little in the delivery.  

English Folk is predominant through all the songs. All stories with the sharp observations of a great short story writer.

Just Desserts she calls the one Punk track on the opus. Well, it is stark. A beautiful melody and the sound of underlying dread that is the Twin Peaks atmospheric. David Lynch has produced one early single for her, Dream Wave.

The song refers to a café in Wellington. It does remind me of a legendary one here in Auckland. When we were students full of piss and vinegar. Just Desserts was where we all went to dissect the Film Festival movie we had just seen. Or debrief after a Cure or Talking Heads gig at the Town Hall.

Little Notes was on the original album as the single for release. Was not intended to be there at first. It sounds fine. It has a Celtic rhythmic swing and still sounds quite folky.

The one that was left off will be on the vinyl reissue due out in September. The Oldest Bar in Town. Soft ringing guitar and this is late night sad Rock’n’Roll playing on the Twin Peaks juke box.

Bird in the Thyme is the last chapter of the journey and we are back full circle to ancient Folk airs. Inspiration from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Ryan Fisherman

Ryan FishermanRyan plays the warm-up set. He’s from Christchurch and he is a multi-talented musician who plays sessions, with bands, and produces. He has collaborative contacts with many highly regarded New Zealand artists. The area is currently the hot-bed for music in this country.

Tonight, he is solo. Fisherman is the project name for Ryan Chin. We saw him at Whammy earlier in the year when he played slide guitar accompanying Ben Woods.

Peace of Mind and Racetrack are nice Country Folk songs once the low-end distortion is dealt with. His passionate higher-register vocal cuts through on the second tune.

Down. The subject is depression. The song is bright and melodic. Spanish-style Ry Cooder guitar lifts it up as a happy Folk Pop song.

He tells us he was invited to the Country Music Awards in the Lower South Home of Country recently. As a top three finalist with the song Observation. As he points out, Country has a wide definition now. As does Folk. He blends the two so we could call his sound Americana too.

Starts the song with some mid-Sixties Dylan phrasing, before settling into a delicate Folk vocal which also touches of Jeff Buckley.

He’s a mixed-breed pedigree of artist.

A perfect set-up for Tiny Ruins on her short New Zealand tour. Her debut album presented a fully-formed talent from the beginning and deservedly picked up critics’ attention around the world. In presenting it now with the stories behind it, she gets to listen in to the depths of her soul just as much as we the audience do.

Rev Orange Peel                    

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