The Australian folk/indie pop band The Paper Kites are musical icons and in ‘Roses’, their fifth album, they have crafted a breathtakingly beautiful album that has an indelible sheen and stature. This is a band that is simply getting better every release, and in this release the boundaries have been further extended by a coterie of exquisite and perfectly chosen female guest singers from around the globe.
The bedrock of the album are songs that ring like a clear bell – melodic, gentle and mesmerising filled with delicate mostly acoustic instrumentation that shimmers and glows. There is a gentleness and thoughtfulness that even on the most upbeat tracks – like the chiming ‘Steal My Heart Away – shine through like beams of sunlight in a darkened room.
Singer Sam Bentley says of The Paper Kites’ music:
If you were to walk along a busy street, and something caught your eye – something small that had no business being there – but you picked it up and put it in your pocket, you couldn’t say why – but for some reason, you kept it with you – to me, that’s our music.
Indeed, ‘Roses’ is filled with those little treasures – individual gems that fit perfectly to create a glittering prize. This is the first collaborative release from the band and the result is nothing short of magnificent. The guests add to the lustre: it features Lucy Rose (UK), Julie Stone (AU), Nadia Reid (NZ), Maro (PT), Aoife O’Donovan (US), Rosie Carney (IE) Ainslie Wills (AU), Amanda Bergman (SE), Lydia Cole (NZ) and Gena Rose Bruce (AU). We have certainly followed the latter’s career closely and it is great to see her talent recognised on a larger stage.
Of the collaboration, Bentley says:
I had written these songs and had always wanted to do an album like this, but I remember almost scrapping the whole project because it felt too hard. It was about finding the right voices for the songs – artists that couldn’t just sing but had something deep and moving in the way they sang – and that’s not every singer – it’s rare.
First track ‘Walk Above The City’ is a prime example of the sheer beauty found across the album:
The track features Portuguese singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist MARO. Bentley says:
I remember MARO was the first artist that agreed to be on the album, which was perfect because she was the first artist in a long time who stopped me in my tracks when I heard her sing. We saw her play in Munich with Jacob Collier, and I’d never heard anything like her voice. I didn’t find out until we connected a few months later that she was a fan of our band. It was really special to do that song with her.
Julia Stone (of Angus and Julia Stone duo) delivers ‘Without Your Love’, a more rockier track that is brooding and immense.
I grew up listening to Julia’s music, and some of her work was pivotal in turning me down the road I went. To approach her and have her love that song and want to sing on it was an amazing full circle moment-she’s such an important figure of the folk revival in Australia, and I don’t think we would be a band without them leading the way. It was a real honor to work with her.”
‘Cross Fire’ has alt. country/gothic cross over feel with Swedish singer Amanda Bergman’s voice dripping with melancholy and the jangling guitars a brilliant crystalline backdrop.
Gena Rose Bruce has a voice that is like honey – it flows with a golden sheen, sensuous and languid. We reviewed her brilliant album ‘Can’t Make You Love me’ back in 2019 and her contribution to the track ‘Lonely’ is exquisite: slowly dripping with melancholy imbued with a sense of loss.
Final track, ‘By My Side’ is an imperious and beautiful track – flowing over a sparse piano with Rosie Carney guesting. Bentley says:
I remember Rosie Carney recording ‘By My Side’ on the floor of her London flat; she was so concerned because she wasn’t used to recording without an engineer present. I think she felt it wouldn’t sound good enough. But, it’s remarkable what we can achieve these days in terms of collaborations and home recording technology from the other side of the world-she sent her vocals over, and they were so beautiful.
The magnificent track has a softness and melancholy that is tangible and powerful. The all pervasive silence it creates as it ends is stunning.
The band has provided a fantastic track by track analysis – you can watch here.
‘Roses’ is simply a beautiful and moving piece of art that glitters and sparkles.It is mesmerising and hypnotic with a grace that is powerful and transforming.
The album is available through the usual download/streaming sites and as physical variations here.