The California folk-jazz songwriting duo Winterlark will cheerfully dismantle a song from the Great American Song Book right in front of you and deftly remake it into a delightful, modern melodic monster. Kristin Olson, upright bass, and Sweeney Schragg, acoustic guitar, dig a jab of jazz with their Beatles-tinged tunes and a twist of folk in their bossa nova.
Music critics have taken notice. It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine sums up the duo, "Winterlark have landed on an urban folk musicality that blends literate lyrics; bossa nova and soul rhythms; and the harmonic, melodic, and improvisatory traditions of jazz." About the their debut single "When I Saw You Stranded There," Matt Micucci of Jazziz writes, Winterlark "pays tribute to The Beatles while evoking the charming repartee that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong had on their fabled duet recordings."
Winterlark's repartee has been a consistent characteristic of both their live performances and their recorded work, three EPs of collaboratively written songs released in three short years. As Kelsey Marlett describes it in the indie music blog Two Story Melody, "Schragg and Olson's vocals blend together with cozy chemistry." She adds, "These San Francisco Bay Area singer-songwriters know how to tell a story."
In 2022, the duo followed up their first EP, When I Saw You Stranded There (2021), with the "breezy, bluesy, bittersweet and beguiling" In Walked Winterlark (Darryl Sterdan, Tinnitist). The recording dials up the banter between Schragg and Olson, their "brand-epitomizing witty repartee" (Michael Major, Broadway World). Randy Radic, in Celebmix, gushes about their "smooth folk music tinted with luscious jazz aromas and cashmere vocal harmonies."
You Send Me A Photograph (2023) finds Winterlark maturing as collaborative songwriters, with a sound that Wax Vinyl Records describes as "the perfect balance between the improvisational nature of jazz and the accessibility of a well-crafted song." "This EP is a true gem," writes Hillary Tran for Imperfect Fifth. "The EP's six tracks weave together elements of indie folk and dream pop … intricate compositions and hauntingly delicate vocals." It features a nod to Willie Nelson in "Too Blue to Be Haunted," a 60's pop-rock bass groove in "What I See in Your Eyes," and even a seasonal favorite in "Watch the Door, Winter Is Here." Writing for V13, Aaron Willschick calls You Send Me A Photograph "a feel-good collection of six new songs that, if you’re in a bad mood, will put you in a good one, and if you’re in a good mood, will make it all the better."
In this post-pandemic landscape, Winterlark is getting out on the road, performing up and down the West Coast and even all the way back to Michigan. They are looking to make their audiences feel good again.