Penny & Sparrow
Penny & Sparrow is American singer-songwriter duo of Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke out of Austin, Texas. Formed in 2011 after living as roommates at the University of Texas, the duo began their musical endeavor as a hobby and creative outlet. Their first tune, “Creature” was recorded in a small apartment behind an orphanage with one microphone and a laptop. “If you listen closely, you can hear kids screaming and laughing in the background of each song,” says Baxter. “After just one song, we knew writing and recording was something we didn’t want to stop doing.” Through the years, Penny & Sparrow has steadily grown both in discography and audience.
While the instrumentation in each of the three released albums (Creature (2011), Tenboom (2013), Struggle Pretty (2014)) may differ, Penny & Sparrow has garnered a reputation of blending sincere lyrics with haunting melodies and harmonies in every song. The raw and emotive quality of their songs has been known to push crowds to near silence for an entire set.
Though most of their recordings are layered with strings and percussion, many fans are surprised to find that Andy and Kyle normally tour with no added instruments – simply two microphones and a guitar. Though there are no added gimmicks on stage, Penny & Sparrow regularly silence crowds not far after the first note is sung. “We like playing as a duo because it’s how each song was first written,” states Baxter.
“Struggle Pretty”, released Spring 2014, is the latest album by Penny & Sparrow. The album was written and recorded inside the East Austin house that Andy and Kyle, along with their wives, lived in together. “Struggle Pretty” is vast with instrumentation and creativity, while still staying true to the harmony-centric roots found in “Creature” and “Tenboom.” Kyle and Andy teamed up with producer Chris Jacobie for the album, who helped capture the spirit and sound of the duo. From the somber “to haunt, to startle,” to the sweeping “Bread and Bleeding,” each song has its own voice within the album. The team began the recording process in September 2013, and finished late February 2014.
“We wanted to record this album in the house we lived in for a lot of reasons,” explains Jahnke. This house is special to both of our families, and we wanted this record to embody that. We want to have our friends come and record during the day and then drink bourbon with us after. Along with that, this house has a very unique sound that we wanted to highlight.” The duo wanted to create a sense of community and camaraderie around the house and music. To involve family and friends both creatively and relationally. The result of the work put in for “Struggle Pretty” was a sincere, inspiring, and exciting twelve-song album.