Sparrow Hill formed in 2002 to join the ranks of the sensitive in the Sydney music scene. Their sound is a study in harmony and economy, with subject matter that ranges from the heart, to the fields, to the beasts, and back again.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Sonia Tsai sings for the lovers and the fighters, but ultimately for the members of society who want their hearts to be warmed. Her voice has been described as an iron fist in a velvet glove. Sonia’s sister Rachel provides homespun, no-frills drumming while Melissa Ratliff’s keyboards and vocal harmonies add colour to the mix. Cameron Krone deals a nice handful of bass lines that lope around Que Minh Luu’s well-delivered percussive elements and chiming glockenspiel. Sparrow Hill’s music is full of melody-driven harmonies; it is gentle, wholesome, considered, sparse and carefully crafted.
The band initially built upon a back catalogue of the soundtrack to Sonia’s adolescence. She has been writing songs since the age of 14 after first picking up the guitar at age 11. Sonia and younger sister Rachel used to play guitar and drums together at the family home, then when they met up with Mel, Cameron and Que, the early songs grew and new songs developed collaboratively.
Being selected to be part of the SBS Whatever Sessions in 2003 boosted Sparrow Hill’s confidence and launched them into a more serious state of mind musically.
Their debut album Until You Go was recorded during 2004 and 2005 at the SBS Multitrack studios in Artarmon, Sydney as part of the SBS Whatever Sessions, a nation-wide new music initiative designed to encourage and promote promising new Australian recording artists.
The results were described as “Thoughtful, dreamy, charming and intelligent” and saw them likened to artists such as Cat Power and fellow Australian artists New Buffalo and Holly Throsby.