Paper Aeroplanes specialise in an intoxicating brand of Alt folk. Singer Sarah Howells has one of those voices that is impossible to ignore, a soaring yet fragile instrument of the finest kind; and their heartfelt lyrics and gorgeous melodies are guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye and sooth your troubled soul. The 2013 album Little Letters (Navigator Records) was released to a barrage of acclaim from critics and fans alike, and saw the Welsh band embark on an epic series of dates across Europe, selling out many iconic venues including London’s Union Chapel, Hamburg’s Prinzenbar and Whelan’s in Dublin.
Our music is about human connection, says Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes. Not surprisingly the story of Paper Aeroplanes is as heartwarming and poignant as one of their songs. Vocalist Howells suffered a great personal loss, leading to her meeting guitarist Richard Llewellyn and their subsequent realisation that they were meant to make music together.
Sarah grew up in Milford Haven, a small industrial town in Pembrokeshire, and Richard hails from Tresaith, a picturesque coastal village on Cardigan Bay. At the age of 13, Sarah began composing songs, realising quickly that music was the career path she would take. Later in her teens, her band, Jylt, were on the verge of national success when bass player and best friend, Nia George was diagnosed with leukaemia, from which she tragically passed away at just 21.
Following a period of soul searching, Sarah felt compelled to continue writing and singing. She joined forces with Richard, who she had met through a mutual, musical friend. In 2006, they formed Halflight, quickly catching the attention of the Welsh gig-going public and media. Radio Wales have been supporters ever since helping cement the duo’s ever-increasing reputation in their home country.
Following a subtle rebrand and name change in 2009, Paper Aeroplanes began to spread their wings (never ignore the obvious puns), playing hundreds of shows across the UK and Europe; receiving radio play from the likes of Steve Lamacq, Dermot O’Leary, Cerys Matthews, Tom Robinson, Lauren Laverne and Bob Harris; and having their music used on national TV (BBC drama Lip Service, Sky Sports Champions League final, Irish No Smoking campaign etc).
PA have spent much of the last year writing and recording in Cardiff with the help of producer Mason Neely (Cerys Matthews, Sufjan Stevens, Lambchop, Colorama). Guessing Game, the first single from the new batch of songs, added more rhythmic and electronic elements to the band’s trademark acoustic sound, bringing to mind the likes of Lykke Li, Florence and Feist. The new album (released March 2015) continues this theme – a varied and thrilling collection of songs to augment their already stunning live set.