The harmony of siblings is often hard to beat, and Sweden's Soderberg sisters Johanna and Klara certainly have the gift. The Scandinavian duo, 19 and 22, are musical healers (without sounding too hippie about it). Their unaffected, youthful tales are often bittersweet in their delivery - sadness and loveliness sitting comfortably together as their sweet country-styled voices wrap around each other.
On their second album after The Big Black and the Blue, they are definitive in their embrace of pop-infused country. The well-rounded, dynamic arrangements are warm and hopeful, often juxtaposed with the yearning of the lyrics. In certain moments you can hear the influences they cite, including Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash and June Carter, but in others there are more contemporary leanings. Blue, about a 22-year-old boyfriend who died in a car accident, has a timeless, sunny arrangement that brings to mind the Carpenters and Fleetwood Mac, and Emmylou has the ease and lilt of a Dixie Chicks number, but with more poignancy. In other moments you can hear fellow Swede Lykke Li, the influence of Fleet Foxes and, on the dramatic Dance To Another Tune, there's a touch of Florence Welch, with its use of harp. But the tunes are really all their own, sibling harmonies distinctive in their clear and true twang.
Producer and engineer Mike Mogis (who's known for his work with Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley, among others) deserves credit for balancing their American and European influences, complementing them with a crew of musicians for recording in Omaha, Nebraska and roping in the Felice Brothers and Conor Oberst for terrific mariachi hoedown album-closer King of the World.
Verdict: Bittersweet pop-country harmonies from Scandinavian siblings.
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