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There was an element of surprise when I watched this Glasgow-based three-piece who warmed up for ‘90s rockers, Idlewild. The band’s live set captured the same intensity as their records, with just three people on stage. The band told me afterwards that they record as they play: the three of them absolutely live with no overdubs. Infact, they added that they are always looking to leave things out rather than throw in too much- or in their own words, “we do under-dubs!” So where does this intensity come from? By keeping it precise, to the point and effective. Sparrow and the Workshop know their craft; they are about to blast you and they’re not even cocky with it. Read on.

If you haven’t already heard of them, Sparrow and the Workshop consists of one girl and two guys who fuse country and folk influences with a tight rhythm that hammers away like an ironmonger on steroids. Tonight’s set consisted of songs from the band’s two EPs, Devil Song and Into The Wild, released last year on Distiller Records, and a new number.

The real beauty of this trio lies in the contrasts in the sounds they create and their versatility. And they know how to write decent songs. Gentle yet powerful female vocals, acoustic guitar against throbbing basslines, and haunting yet soothing vocal harmonies are just a few factors that make up their sound. It’s like hearing a young Emmylou Harris being backed by The Clash. They’re sweet and heart-warming one minute, then they let you have it, and with both barrels.

I could have listened to them all night, but unfortunately, as support band, they had to keep it short. I hope to see them headline their own show soon, with a much lengthier set. This is a band with imagination, songwriting skills galore and the ability to create their own sound and dynamics by putting their influences to good use, rather than resorting to painfully obvious parodies. In the current musical climate that’s infested with endless copycats and tiresome ‘80s throwbacks, the guilty parties should be learning from Sparrow and the Workshop. There’s a full-length album, Crystal Fall on the horizon, so watch out.


Words: Arash Torabi

Photo: Angie Knight