First Aid Kit's sisterly harmony | Bleader

First Aid Kit's sisterly harmony

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First Aid Kit
  • First Aid Kit
Klara and Johanna Söderberg of Sweden's First Aid Kit harmonize in a way that seems to require blood ties—think of all the great singing brothers, like the Louvins, Delmores, and Everlys—but they're not especially imaginative vocalists. They usually sing in straightforward parallel intervals rather than using contrapuntal parts or shifting high-low blends. It's a lovely sound, but because their first album, The Big Black and the Blue, lacks much instrumental variety, I found it a bit one-dimensional. First Aid Kit's second album, The Lion's Roar (Wichita), recorded last year in Omaha, Nebraska, with producer Mike Mogis, is a big improvement.

The arrangements are thicker and more dynamic, and soften the Söderbergs' voices even as they give them more lift; guest musicians flesh out the parts recorded by the band (Klara plays guitar, Johanna plays keyboards, their father, Benkt Söderberg, plays bass, and Mattias Bergqvist plays drums). Most of the songs employ a lush, strummy folk-rock sound, but there are some nice diversions, including "Emmylou" (as in Harris, a clear influence on First Aid Kit—at one point they sing "I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June / If you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too"), where Mogis adds some nice pedal steel, and "Blue" (probably a Joni Mitchell nod), which has a poppy Laurel Canyon vibe. Conner Oberst of Bright Eyes provides an unnecessary and obtrusive cameo on "King of the World," but luckily that arrives at the album's end. First Aid Kit play a sold-out show at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

First Aid Kit, "Emmylou"

Today's playlist:

Various artists, Slåttar Frå Voss, Hardanger og Krødsherad (Talik)
Milton Wright, Friends and Buddies (Henry Stone Music)
Juan Pablo Torres, Romantic Cuba (Malanga Music)
Peter Blegvad, King Strut & Other Stories (Silvertone)
Catherine Christer Hennix, The Electric Harpsichord (Die Schachtel)

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