Street Sounds: Swedish sisters do Americana justice

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg capture the soul of Americana on their third album, Stay Gold.

The siblings sing with that uncanny character that blood breeds: two voices that follow each other with throwaway precision and keening harmonies.

The Soderbergs have also bucked the producer/pop singer star system that Idol-type shows and companies thrive on. They write their songs, sing them, play on them and zero in on a timeless zone of folk-rock with an intensity so natural it seems recognizable.

Some of the best interpreters of national musical styles are from outside the region, giving them the distance to re-imagine the landscape.

Stay Gold is dominated by the Soderbergs’ twinned voices, clear, strong and Appalachian in spirit, minus the twang. There’s also a slight Maritime lilt that drives the music, along with the mountain rhythms (Heaven Knows).

This gives their music a singular, timeless character. They sing of the road, distant vistas, waitresses, and seasons. The songs are dreamy, but not detached, and the lyrics and vocals are a vibrant presence that has an honest inspirational character.

Producer Mike Mogis (Fleet Foxes) puts a string ensemble to First Aid Kit’s flowing music, heavy on violins, viola and cellos.  From the first swooning note of My Silver Lining, it’s easy to be hooked; the songs cast a potent spell. The strings add a rich palette that adds resonance and power to the duo’s acoustic-based music.

Their songs have a deep emotional pull and if they’re all similar in style (a baroque ‘70s folk/country vibe), the imagery that the harmonies and chords invoke present a thematic flow.

Stay Gold is a record that anyone who has an interest in how folk and old-time country music can be presented in a committed, re-imagined form should check out.

(On a candid note, I played it six times through, and didn’t want to comment, just listen).

– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who writes about new releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.


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