Listen to this track by autumnally inclined indie folk concern from Melbourne Australia, The Paper Kites. It’s “Bloom”, a single that would later appear on their initial EP, also called Bloom released in 2010.
The band started the year before that, slowly building up an audience through old-fashioned word of mouth. In the meantime, the band made the EPs themselves making them very limited editions. But this was not before band members Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy met during high school, playing as a duo initially at local venues, weddings, and festival shows in and around Melbourne.
The band have since filled out into a quintet with Bentley and Lacy each singing and playing guitar, bolstered by, Josh Bentley on drums, Sam Rasmussen on bass, and multi-instrumentalist Dave Powys playing guitars, banjo, and lap steel.
Actually, this “make your own EP by hand” gambit was tried and true for this band on a number of occasions since their birth as a band. They eschewed the making of a full length record at one point, opting for another EP and more touring before putting out 2013’s States. So with all of this local word of mouth traction in Australia, how did they move the needle to being heard on CBC Radio One by me recently?
Maybe it was some of the exposure that they received in touring with City and Colour, a stalwart Canadian act that hooks into some of the same acoustic feel as they do. But, this song shows that their roots go back a bit further, full of folky clawhammer fingerpicking and ecstatic natural imagery. And refreshingly, this is a love song. Maudlin, over-earnest, syrupy love ballads are to be avoided, generally of course. Equally irritating is the too-cool-for-school love song, hinting at the wonder of being in love, but refusing to speak plainly about it because it’s too hard a thing to do.
I suppose songwriters today are at a bit of a disadvantage where this is concerned. There are already so many songs out there that attempt to capture the essence of what love is or even feels like. It’s hard to deliver a line like “my world is you” and not flinch just a little, I imagine. But, it helps when you know your craft when it comes to creating musical backdrops to support it, navigating into the territories of mood, atmosphere, and sonic subtlety to give the whole piece a sense of authority. It’s that which is the missing factor a lot of the time, riding on the authority of one’s influences rather than evoking the spirit from where that earlier music came and making something new.
And besides all that, I love a song that smells of freshly fallen rain and dead leaves. I love melancholic music that supports something that deals in the language of the innocent; idealized love expressed with the imagery of a new morning, a world painted gold by the sun, and a love that lasts even when the world is sleeping. Yet, despite what I said about owning up to love in song, there is a streak of darkness in this one, too; “can I be close to you?” So, maybe this song hooks into another aspect of love; unrealized expectations, and feelings not returned. Suddenly, “my world is you” isn’t such a sweet sentiment.
Hmm. Melancholic, indeed.
For more about The Paper Kites, check out this interview with Sam Bentley.
Also, for a tour of their back catalog, news, and other stuff, check out thepaperkites.com.au