While emotionally engaging, it is also subtly withheld - outer serenity buoyed by an internal sense of fun with dark, twinkling eyes and bare outstretched arms leading you into the woods and snow.
Energies traversed tip hats to Eva Cassidy, Beth Orton, and Iron & Wine, while the very warm arrangements maintain a more modern but still folk-infused feel. Songs like 'That's you and I' and 'For always' are stripped back to bare vocals and guitar. Other arrangements range from full band (Dan Luscombe, Pete Luscombe and Bill McDonald on electric guitar, drums and bass) on 'Most of all', to the addition of even more layers - from Melbourne Symphony strings (Kristian & Michelle on violin and cello) and delicate Antarctic OP1 samples on 'Pacify the sun', to outer-space sounds and even fireworks on the quietly epic 'How can we know'. Then there is 'Would you still love me', which finds Rachel Holmshaw treading somewhere between a very laid-back Shirley Bassey and Portishead's Beth Gibbons, and belongs on a James Bond film... especially with a female lead.
Surprisingly - with all this diversity - there is a strong commonality and unity about this body of work, songs flowing effortlessly from one to another. Perhaps this stems from a combination of the 'deep northern winter' production theme Fi and Merri-May encouraged all members to visualise while working on their parts, plus the mixing and mastering mastery of Anthony Lycenko and Gavin Lurssen.
The album's first single, ‘Most of all’, is an exploration of all things sleepy Sunday morning and love, featuring Melanie Horsnell's exquisite vocals alongside Dan Luscombe’s poignant electric guitar licks - both atop a steed of fun alt-country drums and bass by Pete Luscombe and Bill McDonald. Snow-prints are deep as this gorgeous horse carries them home with an easy grace and gentle grandeur.
Light in darkness and weighty in lightness - this dreamy album will keep your log cabin warm despite the icy night outside.
"...this album is gorgeous.... A delight! I've loved the first listen and am looking forward to having it on repeat for the foreseeable future." Ian Shadwell
Noel Mengel (The Courier Mail) calls Fi a "sunny folk-pop delight", Jeff Jenkins (Inpress) says "she's a major talent" and Ross Clelland (The Drum/themusic.com.au) writes "the great song is in her". If the debut Sunday Heart Parade album is anything to go by, it turns out 'the great song is in co-writing' between Fi Claus and her wife of 13 years: Merri-May Gill (they walked down the aisle to 'Here Come the Brides' on the tuba by The Kransky Sisters' Michelle Watt in 2006, then again in 2019 when Gay Marriage was finally legalized in Australia).
Merri-May has packed tents at all the major folk festivals around Australia, plus toured extensively through the UK, USA and Canada in her comedy cabaret past-life - including 3 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals - with a 5-star review in The Scotsman. She was previously signed to Hot Records and has supported the likes of Joan Armatrading, Michelle Shocked, Bachelor Girl and Pete Murray.
Fi has had songs on high rotation on Triple J and recorded on Triple J compilations (Like a Version and Roots N All), performed backing vocals and/or violin with some of Australia's greatest musicians (Paul Kelly, Angie Hart, Pete Murray, Stephen Cummings, Dave McCormack and more), toured Aus for 10 years (6 in duo Gorgeous, and 4 as Fi Claus), and songs featured on the mercedes benz.tv website, visitbrisbane.com.au, Australian feature film All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane, and the latest Moree Plains Shire Tourism film.
Intriguingly cinematic modern folk and alt-country - the debut album by Sunday Heart Parade (available Mon 14 October 2019 on bandcamp.com, Google Play Music, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and more) features four exquisitely beautiful Australian artists: Melanie Horsnell, Angie Hart, Bec Quade & Rachel Holmshaw, taking turns lead-singing on songs by Fi Claus (Gorgeous) & Merri-May Gill.