It’s been three years since New Zealand songwriter and producer James Milne, in the guise of Lawrence Arabia, released his critically acclaimed second album, Chant Darling.
Deciding to change things up a bit on album number three, The Sparrow makes a slight departure from his pop happy retro sounds to a late 60s jazz soundtrack. Milne recorded with Elroy Finn and Conan Mockasin in a house called the Japanese Academy in Surrey, then brought The Sparrow to Auckland’s Roundhead Studio to add the strings and horn layers.
Songs like The 03 and Bicycle Riding feel more introspective – yet maintain the bright production values Milne holds dear. Meanwhile, Travelling Shoes carefully swoons with a Gainsbourg vibe – creating an infectious and suave groove. You can sense the live ambience – it certainly feels looser, no click track squeezing the human element as it were.
Perhaps the best track on The Sparrow is Lick Your Wounds, which displays Milne’s new love for an Axelrod-cool in hand with a gorgeous vocal atop it all. It’s a relief to hear the man’s pop sensibility is clearly intact. And while there is a new side here (Milne himself told us it felt like a drastic change), fans and newcomers will struggle to resist another Arabia pop gem.