Since 2010, New Zealand singer and songwriter Hollie Fullbrook has been creating immersive, introspective folk music under the name Tiny Ruins. The very name suggests something intimate and irretrievably broken, but it also invites you to take a closer look. This is music that prioritises atmosphere over hooks, but once you get inside Fullbrook’s songs, they are little private worlds of their own.
With Ceremony, her fourth album and first since 2019’s Olympic Girls, she’s created something more akin to a private universe. Since her 2011 long-form debut, Some Were Meant For Sea, Fullbrook has steadily layered subtle instrumentation over her dexterous guitar playing. This is her fullest and most colourful release to date, but it’s still a dense work that takes time to reveal itself. Casual listeners are unlikely to be rewarded by Tiny Ruins.
Fullbrook’s band (Cass Basil on bass, Alexander Freer on drums and percussion and producer/engineer Tom Healy on everything else) is kept busy, even on songs that hew closer to her austere original vision. On the opening track, Dogs Dreaming, Fullbrook sings: “I always did know what to paint in an empty room / Thinking, this is more than enough”. It’s a apt self-description of her music.… Read more..