Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg combine country twang and indie-folk sensibility in their duo First Aid Kit. The sisters found YouTube fame with their 2008 cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song," then worldwide critical acclaim with their 2012 album, The Lion's Roar. They have collaborated with Conor Oberst, providing backing vocals for his recent album, Upside Down Mountain. They'll also be featured on the title track of fellow indie darling Jenny Lewis's upcoming album The Voyager, due out July 29th.
They're not just tagalongs though. Their third album, produced by Mike Mogis and entitled Stay Gold, will be released June 10.
The best thing about the Söderberg sisters is their incredibly honest tone. Right off the bat, their voices are beautiful yet casual. It's as if they sing the same way they would speak -- or shout, as in the climactic "Heaven Knows," which sees them sing with stunning aggression, “What’ll you do if it comes down to it / if it all goes straight to Hell?”
The vocals are just one facet of Stay Gold, which incorporates a large ensemble. You hear flute, violin, piano, and bits of auxiliary percussion in addition to the more traditional guitar, bass, and drums. Violin is an excellent touch on the opening track, "My Silver Lining," providing a rich color right off the bat. At times, however, the added instruments don't produce added quality. The flute-featured sections of "The Bell," for example, teeter between charming and ridiculous, falling closer to the latter.
Like the vocals, the album's lyrics are a huge strong point, direct but never obvious, pensive but not self-indulgent. They contain truths that aren't necessarily groundbreaking but are seldom spoken so clearly in pop songs or elsewhere, like this line from the title track: "What if the hard work ends in despair?" Fortunately that's not how First Aid Kit's hard work on the album has ended up -- it's definitely something to check out.
First Aid Kit Stay Gold Tracklist
1. "My Silver Lining"
2. "Master Pretender"
3. “Stay Gold”
4. “Cedar Lane”
5. “Shattered & Hollow”
6. “The Bell”
7. “Waitress Song”
8. “Fleeting One”
9. “Heaven Knows”
10. “A Long Time Ago”