Album Review: Sprout – Sprout EP

[sevenfoursevensix; 2022]

Fleeting moments in music are arguably just as impressionable as those that are settled permanently somewhere in our heads. You know those songs you hear by chance that catch you unaware and leave you in a better mood, like the infectious smile of a passing stranger or an offhand compliment a work colleague unexpectedly gives you. This is Sprout‘s music: delightfully light and pleasing to the ear. It’s like your talented neighbour heard playing through paper thin walls or on the balcony above you.

Sprout is Meg Grooters, whose self-titled debut EP is a friendly collection of songs that either sound like they are basking in the warmth of a sun on a late summer afternoon, or playing in a room where the curtains are drawn to shut it out. “Settled (Here In My Heart)” has a sweet bob of guitar about it as Grooters sings playfully their words: “Now, here or then / There, back, if and when / I’ll be growing again / Older again.” Come the end, when they hum the melody to themselves, the song feels like a song you heard years ago on AM radio, and listening again is a pleasant reacquaintance.

It’s this familiarity that quietly drives the songs on Sprout. “(I’m Just) Getting By”, with its cool keys and vocal inflections, sounds like a jazz standard sung with a sparse arrangement. Similarly the opening track “In the Night (It’s Only You I Think Of)” has the starry glisten of a Billie Holiday classic  – albeit with just a hint of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks theme. Even during instances like these when it feels like you’re peering through a slit in the door to where Grooters is playing to and for themselves, it’s enrapturing. They feel like moments you don’t want to disturb, but no less glad you caught.

While no less charming overall, Sprout‘s weakest moments might be its most considered one. Most of the songs here run shy of the three minute mark and feel like they take their leave just when they have said all they want to, but four minute “Come Back (To What Can Be)” stretches itself out a bit more. Complete with a soft harmonica and quivering guitar strings, the song doesn’t overextend itself (and is lovely in every regard, despite its sensitive lyrics of apprehension and changing moods), but just sits that little oddly compared to the shorter surroundings. Final track “Some Things (They Make Me Feel Like)” also feels like a rehash of earlier melodies, but at 90 seconds it’s hard to be displeased in any real way about it.

“Although I’m very happy to be putting the music out for people to hear, really it was a cluster of things made just for me, by me, and plastered together with best friends, comfy couches, and a lot of love,” says Grooters of the EP. And really that description hits the nail on the head regarding the feel of Sprout. It’s graciously personal, like Grooters isn’t singing the songs to find any answer to big questions but more like they are just trying to tidy the feeling away in their head. They are fleeting moments of fleeting emotions, captured for the world to enjoy on a whim. While Sprout might not plaster itself into your head, it’ll leave an impression when it’s playing through its six tracks. For 16 minutes it’s lucid joy, so here’s hoping Sprout floats on by your ears at least once.