Andy Penkow, the folk project of Sydney-born, New South Wales-raised musician, is warm and embracing. His lyrics are filled with wonder and intimacy, and when he buzzes over his instrumental backing, it feels as if he is blossoming front stage at a festival, spotlights centering in on his enamoring tenor. Here, the steel-string expressionism of his second coming EP 'Chasing The Sun' isn't just original, it is progressive, captivating, and quietly crushing in the sentiment it divulges.
It might be easy to lump Penkow's voice in with the likes of Contemporary Country on the first impression, especially for an audience unfamiliar with the genre and style. Still, with little need for in-depth consideration, it's obvious that this Americana and Country-spirit amalgamating songster is in a category of his own making. With its inclination towards mystifying ambiance induced atmospheres created from the steel-string guitars and organic earth-shaking rawness, Andy Penkow creates a warm and embracing hug out of a world stuffed with gooey stories about love, and introspection like no other.
The EP's opener and titled track "Chasing The Sun" showcases Penkow's multi-layered croons alongside a swelling and oscillating steel-string guitar gliding the distance and a steadfast acoustic strum for the stave. "When the light comes up in the morning, I'll pack my bags, and I'm gone," he declares with vigor in his spirit, heralding the Shane Nicholson reminiscent topline with another further rallying swell: "beyond the road again tomorrow, I'll be chasing the sun!" The words are outspoken and spear the apex of this track about following your intuitions and dreams to the end. With an impression that glows reminiscent of a warm sunset or huddling up to a woodfire, here, the record's prologue feels welcoming.
Penkow's recording features songs about the heavy and paralyzing weight of love on the heart. On the steady "The Biggest Hearts Can Break," he sings about getting lost along the way to bring love-struck and coming up shortsighted and heartbroken. "Their words can sink into your skin and bones," he sings sadly, "leave a mark, a stain on your soul," you can almost hear his tremors move up and down the register of his whisper-like croons as he continues; steeping like tea before it boils over into the final addictive chorus. The boundless spaces between his lyrics and the reliable instrumentation of crisp drums and southern accented strings behind him can make it sound like Penkow is rallying with newfound strength over the hurt in his magnanimous heart; as if to embrace the realization he is facing. But still, even though first loves and first heartbreaks often devastate even the stoutest hearts, this song finds Penkow bestowing some empathetic cries over the sentiments he describes in this lock-sick ballad.
"Chasing The Sun," is like a jukebox of southern reminiscent soothe songs touching affection and love. The EP runs totally just under twenty minutes long but feels abundant in how it stretches us emotionally and slows downtime; like being under a warming trance, as the delicate and tender words leave from Penkows lips. Then there's, "Vicious Fights, Sleepless Nights," a song that suggests like the final squeeze at the end of a relationship and the heart filling sentiments that follow, as Penkows ushers us past the candle-lit rooms of this profound and smooth delivering playthrough.
"Remember that night, I drove out of your sight?" he asks recalling the irrevocable moments of his connection slip away, "I knew my world would never be the same," he sings in a moment of stillness, before the soft breathing percussion, tender piano chords and ambient drone in the backdrop seamlessly fade into quiet. He's introspective of what it means to leave for good, and whether it was the right decision as the final elapsing moments of the relationship as he drives off. But rather than retreating into the sounds of obscurations, conjecture, and grief with his tone and orchestration, Penkow takes control over his expression and establishes a new-form Americana on this track and the entire records as a whole; with a warming tone and in steel-string thematic.
Andy Penkow finds a better and more precise perception of himself here—defining his own sound by always following his creative intuition and sentiment.
What was it like working with someone like Shane Nicholson on this record, and did it feel surreal operating with a heavyweight producer like him?
It was a dream working with Shane, I have always looked up to him as an artist, He's music is always on rotation. I trusted him with my songs and he didn't let me down.
Which three emotions would you pick to describe the process of this record from start to finish, and why?
I draw on my current life events when writing music, this EP is more Melancholy, I had just come out of a long term relationship so a lot of the songs come from that and the heartache I felt at the time. One Midtempo song "wildflowers," I wrote 10 years ago on the way to a gig in Parks NSW this was a happy time in my life. Chasing the Sun was a co-write with Lyn Bowtell, 9 times Golden guitar-winning artist and this was more of a free-spirited song.
These songs sound very charming, but also personal. How do you find the strength and angle to approach your open book-topics on this record?
Yes, it's scary when you release something so personal. I think it's really important as an artist to be truthful to yourself and the stories you are hoping to tell. I find writing good therapy also. I hope the listener can relate to the songs in their own personal way.
What has been a lingering creative desire or high esteemed milestone in your career that you're excited to focus on this year?
I have spent most of this year so far recording and releasing this new EP working with Australian Country Music Royalty, co-writing with multiple Golden Guitar winning artist Lyn Bowtell, also mentoring with Golden Guitar winning duo Carter and Carter. I have also been working closely with ARIA Charting artist Aly Cook and Key 2 Artists. I'm focused on releasing a few duets leading up to the awards season, I do have a few nominations which is great. And touring next year.