Santa Cruz-based folk-jazz duo Winterlark recently released their brand-new EP, In Walked Winterlark, via Squink Records.
The EP was recorded at Blue Coast Studios and produced by Cookie Marenco, a former Grammy-nominated producer at Windham Hill Records and an innovator in direct stream digital recording.
Made up of Kristin Olson (upright bass) and Sweeney E. Schragg (guitar), Winterlark’s sound blends informed lyrics, bossa nova, and soul rhythms with the harmonic, melodic, and improvisatory traditions of jazz.
In Walked Winterlark follows on the heels of Winterlark’s When Does Love Go South? and their 2021 EP, When I Saw You Stranded There, which received acclaim from Jazziz, Imperfect Fifth, and Two Story Melody.
With In Walked Winterlark, the duo reveals their evolving songwriting skills as well as a deeper connection between Sweeney and Kristin.
Sweeney explains, “We don’t have a TV, so we just play tunes at night.” While Kristin quips, “Some people do crossword puzzles.”
The EP includes contributions from Sweeney’s brother, who elevates the EP’s dynamics with bluesy acoustic leads and Kristin’s sister, who provides subtle percussive accents.
The EP begins with “Walking This Way,” opening on a soft acoustic guitar riding Kristin’s supple bassline. Sweeney’s creamy tenor imbues the lyrics with hints of carefree flavors. The feel and flow of the tune merge folk savors with hints of bossa nova.
Highlights include “Automobile Radio,” with its jaunty intro, followed by a vibrating bassline. Sweeney takes lead vocals as Kristin’s more luminous tones enter to offer delicious harmonies.
Whereas “Stick Around Blues” features a bluesy rhythm topped by the duo’s lush vocals, offering antiphony, and then unifying in harmony. A finessed guitar injects the solo section with lustrous tones as the whimsical lyrics narrate the roving nature of some people.
“He’s handy with tools and it’s widely renowned / But I adore that man so why won’t he stick around?”
“Daring Mary” rolls out on melancholic folk savors, with the bass leading the tune. The lyrics tell a tale of down-on-your-luck individuals who through sheer pluck keep going.
“Sixteen years of waiting tables / Worn shoes and tired bones / Five teenage girls sat laughing / The loudest was her own / Life after methadone – daring Mary / She did it for the kid.”
Talking about the song, Kristin says, “The two individuals who inspired this fictional ‘Mary are still scrapping their way through life, both daring souls dared by circumstance.”
On In Walked Winterlark, Winterlark delivers smooth folk music tinted with luscious jazz aromas and cashmere vocal harmonies.