Meet Darlington's finest peachy-rock band.
Known for helping bring the talents of artists like Sarah Blasko, Gersey and Ben Salter to the forefront, ever-productive multi-instrumentalist Robert F Cranny has been busy exercising his own musical abilities with his new project Peachfield.
Spearheaded by Cranny, the Sydney alt-country outfit was born last year in a two-story terrace in the centre of Darlington, bringing together vocalist Grace Schiavello, acoustic guitarist Laetitia Michel Shepherd, electric guitarist James Grieve, drummer Steven Claxton (drums), and bassist Gillian Watts. The result is a six-piece earning a solid reputation for their brand of laidback, organic, classic, alt-country rock that showcases sparse arrangements, bar-room piano, breezy Nashville- tuned acoustic guitars, spawned from the most organic of meetings.
“I was living in a house in Darlington and Grace moved in downstairs,” Cranny reveals.
“One day I heard her playing guitar and singing on the balcony. I asked if I could write some songs for her to sing and it grew from there. If that wasn’t serendipitous enough, on the day she moved in, I was coming back from the studio with Tom Morgan and Evan Dando. Tom was carrying my Hammond organ above his head up the stairs as Grace was loading in furniture. Those two are such an iconic musical partnership. I took it as a solid omen.”
Very quickly, Peachfield began garnering a reputation for intimate and engaging live performances in local Sydney pubs, fronting the return live music back to Sydney venues, and by early 2020, they had an EP worth of songs ready to go.
In a twist of fate, it was the country’s lockdown that invigorated Peachfield to push through with the release of debut effort, Monuments of Debris, deciding to drip-feed the songs that make up the EP throughout the course of this year with a string of music videos.
“When the lockdown struck, this turned out to be an accidental win. I was suddenly completely unemployed. It gave me something to focus on, working on all the releases, the artwork and the videos. It gave me time to think about each song and what kind of imagery would suit it. It also meant that we could build slowly towards the release and put it out at a more hopeful moment.
“The challenge was that we didn’t have a lot of money and we were separated from each other, so we had to be frugal with every idea, every photo, every bit of footage. Just to make sure we had something unique for each song.”
Comprising seven tracks with storytelling at its core, the eclectic EP was officially released in early November and is a sweeping exploration of Cranny’s own narratives of young Australian lives, set in urban, coastal and rural cities and towns.
“The EP begins in a laneway and ends in a laneway,” Cranny explains.
“‘Laneways’ is about the ones I walked down on my way to Heckenberg Primary School. The one in ‘Konmari’ runs behind my flat in Darlington. ‘Just One Star’ is the torch song. ‘Map Drawn From Memory’ and ‘Bubblegummers’ are set in country towns, like some of my youth. ‘A Great Divide’ is about isolation and ‘Box Wine’ is a drinking song for broke people. Those two are obviously the most 2020 songs of the bunch.”
A genuine labour of love, the EP showcases lush but subtle layers of instrumentation, each song arranged to accentuate its particular mood and style while Schiavello’s alluring vocals seamlessly tie it all together
From a spacious, riff-fuelled ballad for the lonely with ‘Just One Star’, and the nostalgic beat-driven ‘Laneways’, to the anthemic and swirling Christmas song ‘Bubblegummers’, it’s apparent across the release that there’s incredible harmony in Peachfield’s instrumentation and musicianship amongst its six members.
Alongside the release of the EP, the band have decided to make this an experience to commemorate with a 24-page limited edition Monuments of Debris songbook. The beautifully illustrated hand-numbered collectable contains a digital download, showcasing a small collection of released and unreleased songs by the group to round out the year.
“One of the lamentable consequences stemming from the death of the physical record is the loss of the booklet that comes with it,” Cranny adds.
“I remember buying albums as a kid and thumbing through them as I listened. You’d learn the names of all the musicians, the producer, the locations of the studios. You could read along to the lyrics. I’m just trying to keep the tradition alive.”
A delicate blend of emotive lyrics, drifting piano, colourful narratives and soaring vocals, Peachfield is destined to send shockwaves through the alt-country music scene with this release.
‘Monuments of Debris’ is out now and can be purchased via Bandcamp. You can also stream the band’s releases via Spotify.