First Aid Kit
There must be some Tennessee moonshine or something in the water over in Sweden, because for some strange reason, multiple Swedish acts are doing Americana and Nashville country better than Americans themselves. First there was Tallest Man on Earth, aka Swede Kristian Mattson, who has the voice of a Tennessee coal miner and a heart of gold. Now there is First Aid Kit, the brilliant sister duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg, who broke out when Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes fame was blown away by the sisters’ YouTube performance of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” and promoted it on the Fleet Foxes site. Then the band further blew up upon their second album The Lion’s Roar, which somehow delivered the Nashville country sound (and even referenced it on “EmmyLou”) with the help of producer and Monsters of Folk member Mike Mogis. Now comes Stay Gold, another record produced by Mogis, which further pretties up and captures the unique beauty of the Soderberg sister’s voices.
It’s been said and shown throughout rock history how special a siblings connection can be when it comes to harmonies, whether it’s the Everly Brothers, the Wilson brothers from the Beach Boys, or the Partridge Family (I kid). There just seems to be a God-given connection that just cannot be replicated by mere friendship. So the way the Soderberg sisters’ voices intertwine on opener “My Silver Lining” and title track “Stay Gold” should be cherished, as their two voices connect into one beautiful strand of melodic gold. In other spots, like “Cedar Lane” and “Fleeting One”, the duo’s songwriting has truly improved, as has their ability to bend their voices to give a more nuanced vocal delivery. So not only are the harmonies still great, but their individual vocal delivery and songwriting has moved up a tier.
Stay Gold also boasts a cleaner production than before, which I don’t always equate to being superior, but when the focus of the music is the richness and texture of the vocals and country sound, it’s surely a better thing to get a lusher production where all the brights get brighter. There is also still true adololescent emotion here on songs like “Heaven Knows” and “Waitress Song” which show a little of the duo’s earnest yet frisky personality.
At 10 songs, all which sound unified yet varied, Stay Gold strikes a nice balance and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a lovely sound for the summer, and a record I’m sure I’ll be returning to for quite some time.
Can’t Miss: “Stay Gold”, “Cedar Lane”, “The Bell”, “Fleeting One”
Can’t Hit: none