Sound — 7
Some artists look to fantasy for inspiration, some artists live vicariously through others in their songs, and then there are those like singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist William Fitzsimmons who writes autobiographical pieces set to haunting folk-pop melodies while tinted in a soft country-blues palette drawing references to Alison Krauss, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, and John Mayer. His latest release, The Sparrow And The Crow on Mercer Street Records, displays Fitzsimmons' misty vocals in a muted and mournful tone. His vocals seem to flounder in the music's foggy hazy and porcelain-textured acoustics with a slight bounce in his gait along Further From You, which he sings alongside an angelically-hued female vocalist who harmonizes with him beautifully. Significantly more polished than street-folk, The Sparrow And The Crow has a selection of piano-driven ballads like After Afterall and Even Now which are pensively skewered, and a garland of Celtic-tinged acoustic guitar strums strewn across We Feel Alone and Just Not Each Other. The wispy tendrils of the acoustic guitar and the light skips in the rhythmic grooves of You Still Hurt Me move with a childlike innocence, and the soft ripples of They'll Never Take The Good Years have a storytelling versing. Fitzsimmons' vocals are so faint that they meld right into the melodic fabric. The tenderly strummed acoustics of I Don't Feel It Anymor are reflective of Alison Krauss' hushed bluegrass country breeds, and the soft folk-pop alterations made on If You Would Come Back Home are jeweled in subtle lifts along the chorus parts and slimly-layered effects in the verses. The slow carousal-wheel turns of Find Me To Forgive have a fairytale aura, and the flouncy rhythmic beats and lounging acoustics of Good Morning produce serene landscapes and sprigs of renewed hope.
Lyrics — 8
His lyrics describe the true story of his divorce, telling the tale of two people who didn't make it. Fitzsimmons unabashed admit's that The Sparrow And The Crow was conceived as an apology and a confessional to his former wife, setting his words to music. The result is a collection of songs that chart a path from regret to reconciliation in the verses for Find Me To Forgive as he reflects, I haven't seen you for over a year / I heard you were married and the baby you carried isn't mine / I don't suppose that you'll still have my name / You'll have another because you're not my lover anymore / Will you look the same when I meet you up there? / Remember my name, please / Will you look the same when I meet you up there? / Remember my name / Find me to forgive. The lyrics fall into a recurring theme which addresses how someone separates oneself from a loved one. Fitzsimmons answers that question in Further From You with the response that it's done by withdrawing slowly, I'm dead to you / You say we are friends / But what is a friend, when there is a man / Who sleeps in your bed too / Everything's closer to the end / But I'll get farther from you / Everything's closer / It's the end / But I'll get further from you.
Overall Impression — 7
Produced by Marshall Altman at Galt Line Studios in Los Angeles, The Sparrow And The Crow is Fitzsimmons' first studio recorded album following his two self-recorded and self-released records, Until When We Are Ghosts in 2005 and Goodnight in 2008. His lyrics deal with going through a heartbreak and mourning a lose of a lover, and somehow he concludes the album with the hopeful Good Morning. Of course circling around the same theme causes the tracks to end up sounding repetitive, but the album is so honest that the repetition does not affect the listener in a negative way. A handful of Fitzsimmons songs have appeared on such TV shows as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Army Wives." His songs have an attractive country-folk pattern that makes for a perfect fitting with the storylines of TV shows, enabling to carry the scenes along and expressing real-life emotions in practical terms.