Roots/alt. country duo The Yearlings combine warm harmonies with delicate flat-picking and sparse country blues to create songs that are at once haunting and soothing.
Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson have wasted no time in getting down to the business of making music since meeting at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2000. Their successful self-titled debut album (released on Reckless Records in 2003) was recorded live in 8 hours and long-listed for an ARIA nomination.
The Yearlings joined the ranks of the great duos of alt. country/roots music with the release of their second album “Wind Already Blown” (Mixmasters Records) and their trademark skeletally sweet harmonies and sparse, but alive, playing style. Two tracks from this album were chosen for Claudia Karvan’s award-winning television series, ‘Love My Way’.
With the release of their third full-length recording, “Highway Dancing”, including eleven new songs The Yearlings have created an album of outstanding beauty. It breathes.
Highway Dancing is a departure from The Yearlings’ stripped back, acoustic approach to recording. Using their weaving guitars and seductive harmonies as a base, this album has the backing of a band – giving full favour to The Yearlings’ music.
The Yearlings performed at the prestigious New York Guitar Festival in February 2008 sharing the bill with Teddy Thompson, Jim Lauderdale and Ollabelle. After which they stayed on in New York to make their third album.
Recorded in Brooklyn, New York over four days during the American winter of February 2008, the album was produced by David Spelman (founding director of the New York Guitar Festival and Adelaide Guitar Festival), who saw The Yearlings playing a gig in Adelaide and felt he just had to work with them.
Inspired, David herded the musicians together at Excello studios - three members of New York roots band “Ollabelle”: Tony Leone (drums), Byron Isaacs (bass), Glenn Patscha (keyboards) plus multi–instrumentalist Larry Campbell (pedal steel, dobro, mandolin, fiddle). Larry has worked as a sideman for Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson among others and recently won a Grammy award for producing Levon Helm’s latest record Dirt Farmer.
All songs were arranged and captured in four days live, on-the-fly, as it happened. Recorded onto 2-inch tape, this old-school style has left the record breathing a life often trampled by modern technology.
Robyn’s voice demands attention - smooth, breathy and fragile, you listen to each syllable pass you by as you lean in, turn it up and immerse yourself in a story told by a fine songwriter devoid of pretence. Her beautiful, ethereal and mysterious songs are the perfect counterpoint to Chris’s earthy compositions, while his “hang-on-every-note” guitar playing remains as compelling as ever.
The Yearlings continue to garner praise for their mesmerising live performances and won a SAMI award for the AWESAM ‘Most Popular Australiana Act 2005’, and have been nominated for a Golden Guitar Award (Australia’s country music holy grail). They have continued to tour nationally to sell-out crowds and performing at festivals, including Port Fairy, the National Folk Festival, Queenscliff, FUSE, Nannup and Apollo Bay.
The Yearlings songs rock, sad and slow . . . like a chair on an old wooden porch.
"The Yearlings' previous albums have hinted at great things to come and Highway Dancing may just be it. From the opening title track, Robyn Chalklen's laid-back, fragile vocals effortlessly counterpoint partner Chris Parkinson, particularly when he takes the lead on tracks such as Will You Be Ready and Sheets of the Night. Impressive also is the songwriting, and Don't Feel Kind and Precious Time are standouts. The presence of guitarist Larry Campbell, fresh from producing Levon Helm's latest, Dirt Farmer, permeates the album, putting this Yearlings effort into another league. While the wider scope that additional musicians afford give The Yearlings a chance to spread their wings, the most obvious impression throughout Highway Dancing is the great time The Yearlings have had putting it together." 4 Stars - ****
"The Yearlings took to the stage fresh from a recording stint in New York. Their well-blended voices and masterfully crafted songs such as Walk On and Sheets of the Night created a sense of ethereal gentleness. Sweet and atmospheric, this duo proved that you don't have to be from the US to capture the spirit of boundless Americana."
"The Yearlings have once again come up with a beautiful, tender album of original tunes from Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson. Fitting somewhere in between Gillian Welch and the Cowboy Junkies, The Yearlings are in the best handful of country roots acts in the country and on this their third album they have produced another cracker of a record."
"The Yearlings express the lyrical truth of storylines about real life that poetically tug at the heartstrings…"
"Bony guitars, tales of lost friends, all imbued with harmonies to turn your spinal fluid into ice water…"