Country/folk group Magpie Diaries have released their long-awaited 11-track debut album ‘Sanctuary’ via Dashville. Originating in Hunter Valley, Australia, singer-songwriter Matt “Magpie” Johnston unassumingly founded Magpie Diaries as a coping mechanism for the loss of a dear friend, channeling his grief into the band’s signature brand of smooth alternative country music, bolstered by a tinge of folk and psychedelic rock straight out of the 70s. Motivated to continue this musical journey, Johnston set to work on the songs, recording Sanctuary with producer Matt Sherrod (Crowded House, Beck, William Crighton), over the next 3 years. Alongside his own musical endeavours, Magpie hosts a festival in his family property once a year. The festival titled The Gum Ball started over 10 years ago and today brings in crowds from around the world.
‘Sanctuary’ is a laid back mellow collection of tracks that melt gloriously into the ears creating a rich easy listening experience. The tracks swoon and glide about melancholic tones and dreamy vibes. Opening track ‘Beat Myself Up’ creates the swaying calm atmosphere with warm raspy vocals, lush harmonies and bittersweet guitar twangs. The guitar melodies in the tracks creates a sweet euphoric tone throughout the album from pining laments to steamy whines in ‘Irresistable Pie’ – the guitars flood each track with rich and varied characters. The album ranges from the upbeat soulful folky tones of ‘When Love Comes, ’10 Honey’ and ‘Beetroot’ to the tender ‘Strawberries & Cream’ and ‘If You’re Hurting’.When Magpie Diaries wants to lull you into a dreamy melancholic country toned stupor they do it superbly with sweet lyrics, beautiful melodies and soft passionate instrumentation and when they want to add a dash of shimmying vibrancy the shift is seamless and joyous without ruining the easy going mood of the album. The foot tapping infectious ‘Mumma’s Right’ and the delicate emotional ‘This Spring’ show this perfectly. The shift in tone is refreshing yet subtle. ‘Wastin’ Time’ thuds in on a darker tone as a stomping beat backs a sultry bluesy guitar and luring mysterious atmosphere. The brass elements through the album are simply sublime and lace each track with a juicy sultry persona. The raw ‘Don’t Give Up’ closes the album on an emotional vibe as glistening keys twinkle softly between strong guitar chords and lush vocals. It’s a passionate bruised end to the album that hits you hard in the chest and pulls at those heart strings. It’s a comforting track that gives hope and motivation in difficult times.
‘Sanctuary’ blends, churns and glides through a multitude of emotions from sensual, melancholic to cheery effortlessly while creating the perfect relaxed atmosphere to submerge yourself in.
Magpie Diaries will support the release of Sanctuary with 4 shows at the prestigious Woodford Folk Festival over New Years, along with an Australian East Coast tour throughout January – March. More information can be found on their socials here https://www.facebook.com/magpiediaries/
Stream ‘Sanctuary’ below