Paper Sparrows

Paper Sparrows’ sound centres on their distinctive twin-acoustic guitar style, finger-picking, harmonies and double bass. Arrangements draw upon 60s folk-revivalists such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Dylan and Donovan up to contemporary acts like Dave Rawlings, Kris Drever and the Milk Carton Kids. Following a couple of years of sporadic songwriting and performing, the band began working together properly in 2018 – settling down to write and record their debut EP and album (released on Folksville Records).
Edinburgh’s David Hershaw, Ross Fairbairn and Colin Morris first got together in 2015, as Hershaw explains: “Ross started a great folk club in Edinburgh called Folksville, and I was lucky enough to play at one of the first ones, as was Colin. It was at the Waverley Bar in Edinburgh, a nice sort of room above a pub. And after the first time we played, Ross and I got chatting and I convinced him to come to my house so we could try to write some songs together.
And as Ross always likes to remind me, that first songwriting session was terrible! Nothing was working and we were just about to call it a day when I nipped out and when I came back he’d written a great guitar part and we turned that into a song called ‘Sunday Shoes’, which ended up being on the ‘Silver EP’ that we released in 2021. We got Colin to play double bass and we were complete.”
The trio was named slightly later, he recalls. “We had a list of names and I thought it’d be a good idea to have something that sounded quite organic so the initial suggestion was Paper Starling but Ross didn’t like Starling though he liked the idea. So we changed it to Sparrow and then we had an argument for about a week about whether it should be The Paper Sparrows or just Paper Sparrows singular! I think Colin said split the difference and go with Paper Sparrows. I think the collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel, so we thought that was kind of appropriate!”
Fast-forward a year or three and their debut album, Hiding Away From The Light, should have been released in 2020, but circumstances rather got in the way so it finally appeared in June 2023. It’s a classy mix of acoustic folk/pop with it’s ten songs all credited jointly to the trio, although apparently it’s not quite like that, as Hershaw explains: “Our PRS statement just came out this month and it doesn’t let you do decimal points on your percentages; someone had to get thirty-four percent rather than the thirty-three percent. And Ross kindly said to me, ‘You can have that because you wrote most of the lyrics and lyrics are only worth about one percent!’” This outrageous statement is followed by raucous laughter from all three.
“It’s actually very collaborative,” he goes on to explain. “It usually starts with a guitar part and then I’ll try and accompany it. If all three of us are in the room, I’ll join in and then go away and scribble some lyrics. But then there’s one great song on the album that Ross wrote start to finish and that’s one of my favourites. Then there’re old songs that I had kicking around for years that never got finished and Ross picked them up and had some ideas. And on a lot of the more recent stuff it’s all three of us, and some of the songs didn’t really work until the double bass part came in. There’s not a set formula.”

Broadcast and media partners