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Sweet Runaway

The Yearlings
Sweet Runaway

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All The Wandering

The Yearlings
All The Wandering

Highway Dancing

The Yearlings
Highway Dancing

Bernard Zuel - Sydney Morning Herald 28th August 2010

This South Australian duo have steadily expanded their sonic palette over the course of their four albums, bringing in more instruments and more rhythm to what is brooding country folk. They’ve also opened up their sound along the way from the intensely close atmosphere with which they began to Sweet Runaway’s outdoors-and-sometimes-almost-sunny-too feel. No one’s saying they’re bouncing but you can imagine a smile not being afraid to appear. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the way Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson can get to the nub of an emotion. Chalklen’s voice can haunt you for days and Parkinson carries with him more than a hint of tension. It’s a good combination, bringing out the Neil Young which has always been under their croweater skin.

Martin Jones - Rhythms Magazine August 2010

Normally I’m the first to applaud experimentation and evolution in a band. That said, when The Yearlings went to New York to record with a full band for their last album, Highway Dancing, something was lost. Well, maybe not lost, perhaps diluted. . . or distracted. Perhaps it was the frenetic pace with which the album was recorded. . . or just the frenetic pace of the city itself. The last thing you would describe The Yearlings’ music as is frenetic.

Recorded in their own sweet time at their own sweet home (My Sweet Mule Recording Lounge) in South Australia, Sweet Runaway is the perfect balance of the full band arrangements explored in New York and Chris Parkinson and Robyn Chalklen’s trademark airy minimalism. From the moment Chris’s tremolo treated electric guitar shimmers to life in the first seconds, the album sounds fantastic – unhurried, breathing, spacious and warm.

I remember reading a description of Gillian Welch’s song ‘My Morphine’ as sonically capturing the sensation of the title’s drug. Parkinson and Chalklen have specialised in mining that musical sensation - languorous, woozy and consoling.

Though there are a couple of more boisterous tempos within Sweet Runaway (‘Shotgun Eye’), all remains surreally gentle. Credit is due to BJ Barker, Richard Coates, Lyndon Gray and Mick Wordley (who also engineered the sessions) for such sympathetic alliance.

The pair shares singing duties, weaving in and out of leads and harmonies at will, and though you wouldn’t say either has a remarkable voice, they’ve found something that is honest and their own. Here you can hardly imagine anyone else singing these songs.

David G - Cross Culture (Ent. Website), 24th August 2010
 “There is little wonder that Adelaide roots duo have had one of their songs snapped up by hit TV series ‘Love My Way’. As their new (and fourth studio) album, ‘Sweet Runaway’ shows their sweet melodies know how to set a mood, and the music is just so damn sweet that you can’t help falling in love with it. I feel I should warn you though that this is really an album only for serious Roots music fans, this is not an album that will convert an unbeliever.

The album opens with the very sweet ‘Butterfly’ but it is the amazing vocals on ‘Distraction’ that makes you realise that you are onto to something special here. This is the kind of track that you daydream to… and it is an absolute pleasure to listen to. ‘Drive All Night’ contains a simple bass line, but once again it is the vocals that makes it something special.

The simplistic touch continues with ‘Wildflower Girl’… not that harms the track in anyway… in fact it is a great track that I could easily listen to over and over. ‘Shotgun Eye’ is simply screaming out to be used on a soundtrack but it is the smooth ‘Sweet Runaway’ that sees the album reach its first speed-hump. You realise listening to this that the album is beginning to sound a bit repetitive (a shame because the songs are so special), and it’s like the producer was feeling the same way because the next track, ‘Sally Anne’ sees the album broken up a little with Robyn Chalklen’s vocals becoming more prominent.

‘Your Sweet Town’ borders more on country than roots but again is a joyful listen while the great melodies on ‘Rolling Against The Wheel’ and ‘Lay Your Head Down’ make them sweet listens indeed. ‘Still Not That Taste’ sees The Yearlings turn to a guitar-driven structure while ‘Hard Floor Tonight Blues’ rounds out what is a very special album indeed.

‘Sweet Runaway’ is a terrific album for all you Roots fans out there. Beautiful harmonies and expert song-writing make for one of the best Roots albums to be released in a while.”

Josh - TheDwarf.com.au
Sweet Runaway is the fourth album release from Australian country-roots band The Yearlings. The Adelaide based duo have come off the success of their 2008 success Highway Dancing and have continued their beautiful themes through the use of acoustic and electric guitars. Their soft, tender harmonies are ever-present throughout the whole album and create a lovely mood for the listeners.

This album would be excellent to just sit back and relax to. Their melodies are smooth and gentle while still maintaining the fundamentals of great country music, which is where the band's heart truly lies.

Robyn Chalklen proves herself and answers why her country/roots style makes her one of South Australia’s finest female musicians as Chris Parkinson, often considered to be the backing vocalist of the two, really shows off his inner Paul Kelly, especially during the track, Shotgun Eye.

The Yearlings have been together for just over 10 years now, the two having met each other at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2000. Their relationship has surely grown over those years. Tracks like Butterfly and Sweet Runaway truly highlight the duo’s cohesiveness and show their maturity as artists.

The Yearlings have embarked on ambitious tours around Australia, The US and Canada where they have earned quite a substantial following. They have also played in critically acclaimed festivals including the National Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Queenscliff Music Festival. Some of their previously released albums have been nominated for Golden Guitars and one was even listed for an ARIA in 2008. Sweet Runaway is quite an impressive album which will see The Yearlings truly recognised for the amazing talent that they are.

Patrick Lange - DB Magazine 2010
Local roots/alt country duo The Yearlings possess the rarest of qualities – the ability to send shivers up your spine with a single note. That, combined with the vocal harmonies that are liable to make you weep with joy, have thrust the twosome to the height of our local scene, and with the sublime ‘Sweet Runway’, that seems unlikely to change.

To a certain extent, studio album number four is more of the same, which is certainly not a bad things when you’re as talented as Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson. However, this is the first album to be recorded at their homemade studio ‘My Sweet Mule’ (which can be found in the lad back surrounds of Maslin Beach) which results in an even more tranquil sound than usual.

When the album does pick up its groove, like in the slinky Drive All Night, it highlights just how much The Yearlings have been thinking about their tonal palette; shimmering tremolo guitars and touches of Hammond organ delicately surround the rhythms, adding depth and shade. They’ve also started to explore bluegrass more fully here, and the resulting track Your Sweet Town ends up being one of the highlights, based on a circular banjo figure and a catchy rhythm.

As with any Yearlings record though, the meat here is in the silky-smooth balladry, and it’s here in force, from the delicate Butterfly to the blues-tinged, redemptive and unbelievably beautiful Still Got The Taste. As always, the intertwining vocals will make parts of your body shiver that you didn’t know existed, and in the case of the dark, bluesy Wildflower Girl, will shake your very soul.

Best of all though, ‘Sweet Runaway’ evokes the Australian landscape – and not the stereotypical one the tourism industry constantly tries to shove down our throats. Rather, this Australia is often harsh, often bleak, but always beautiful, perfectly rendered and an utter delight.

Tom Jellett - The Weekend Australian
SOMETIMES the difficult third album isn’t really that difficult at all. In the case of South Australia’s The Yearlings, the third album is where it all comes together. Recorded in their home studio south of Adelaide, there seems to be a comfort and an ease that was lacking from their last album Highway Dancing, recorded in New York with a country music nerd’s who’s who of session musicians, including former Bob Dylan guitarist Larry Campbell. With the confident and self-assured Sweet Runaway, hopefully Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson can be free of the easy comparison to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings; this is more Buddy and Julie Miller territory. Mainly acoustic, save for a few songs garnished by Hammond, Wurlitzer and slide guitar, it is as intimate as a living room and pitched perfectly for an album that will be constantly revisited. All the country staples are here, including beautiful harmonies. Most of the themes generally involve heartbroken lovers going away or having to travel a long way to see each other again. In the case of Drive All Night, you really hope the person at the other end will be pleased to see them after all that driving. Highlights include Distraction, Lay Your Head Down and the not-to-be-messed-around-with and potentially lethal Sally Anne.

Phil Catley, MUSIC SA OCT 2010

Chris Parkinson and Robyn Chalklen are The Yearlings and 'Sweet Runaway' is the fifth release from this local alt Country / folk duo. This collection is well produced, the mix is top-notch, and the instruments deliver a sound that I can only describe as juicy and oaken-honey soaked.

John Mellencamp recently released a collection of songs recorded live-to-tape, with many songs recorded through a single microphone, and all recorded in lo-fi settings such as the hotel room where Robert Johnson quietly scratched his legend into history. John declared his protest against modern over-production by presenting a collection of tunes suffering from digital poverty. Quite separately, down in Maslin Beach, The Yearlings pulled out an old 8 track tape recorder, mic'd up the room to create their own home-made studio, and invited some friends to join them in recording some homespun tunes. Throw a light blanket of tiple, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ, banjo, and accordion over the understated backing tracks to create an almost formless but sublime blend of perfect moods. The background tape hiss that bookends each song is a welcome old friend to those of us raised on cassettes and records, and while audiophonic perfectionists may protest that modern technology has rendered it unnecessary, there's a fair old argument to be made that an analogue tape adds a sonic dimension that the digital studio just cannot capture.

The songs tend to play on mood, developing the harmonic vocal interplay between Robyn and Chris. Opening with Butterfly, Robyn delivers a laconic meandering over a still meadow in spring. This is an acoustic shuffle of gently pulsing tremolo, late nights, lonely mornings and broken hearts. 'Distraction' is Chris's riposte' - a gentle, rolling chord progression weaving between the fire-side and the patio. Eerie, and redolent of dark events, open spaces, and gentle foreboding, Robyn caresses us through 'Drive All Night', a lost highway soundtrack of tremolo and distant slide guitar.

Like a swollen river, once these songs start they just keep on rolling; peacefully rolling. Wildflower Girl is a slightly sad duet, followed by Chris' slightly more upbeat Shotgun Eye and Sweet Runaway. The remaining 6 songs consistently deliver more of the perfection crafted in the first half of the album.

This is a superbly balanced collection of songs, the packaging is professional with lyrics, liner notes, and a picture of the family dog included; this latest offering from The Yearlings is well worth a listen.

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