Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Wichita
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Country music has become a free-trade zone: Witness "Emmylou," a love song about Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, sung by two Swedes with old-school sibling-act harmonies. Johanna and Klara Söderberg are indie rockers at heart: They recorded this set in Omaha with Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis; Conor Oberst does his own Gram Parsons turn on "King of the World." The songs shuffle styles, but the voices transcend genre distinctions – you may not hear a more beautifully sung record this year. Listen to "Emmylou": Related• Photos: Random Notes .
On a hot summer afternoon in 2009, I was driving back from Manchester, Tenn., with my sister and a few friends after four amazing days of music and fellowship at Bonnaroo. It was here—sun-beaten, dirty, and exhausted—in a car somewhere between the festival grounds and my home in Arkansas, that I first met the Söderberg sisters. Now, I would be lying if I said I had discovered the Swedish folk-duo First Aid Kit on my own.
FIRST AID KIT play the Great Hall Wednesday (April 4). See listing. Rating: NNNN Young Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit bring a wonderful dour quality to their brand of folk music. On their second album, Klara and Johanna Söderberg deliver clear, bold vocal melodies and wallops of close harmonies ….
Who’d have thought the best Americana record of the year would come from two Swedish siblings? The answer being, of course, anyone who has heard [a]First Aid Kit[/a]’s debut album. Recorded with Mike Mogis, producer for [a]Bright Eyes[/a] and Jenny Lewis, ‘The Lion’s Roar’ is the sound of a duo growing up and out. And it’s pretty perfect.The title track opens the album on a note of wintry regret – but, if anyone was in doubt as to the direction of the record, ‘Emmylou’ lays down the law.
The second album from the Swedish Soderberg sisters is full to the brim with charm. Recorded in Omaha with Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis, and featuring a cameo from Conor Oberst, it's a bigger, better record than their debut, rounded out with the confidence of maturity and a smooth, assured indie-country sound. But there's an undertow to its sun-kissed demeanour; listen closely and the lyrics are shot through with darkness and gloom.
First Aid KitThe Lion's Roar[Wichita; 2012]By Johan Alm; January 27, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg sure have come a long way since making their debut as teenagers with 2008’s Drunken Trees EP, both musically and career-wise. The younger of the two sisters may still be a teenager, but they have been making music and touring heavily for years now, and that experience adds a maturity to the songs that you normally would not find in a record written by two so young. The Lion’s Roar follows their 2010 album The Big Black and the Blue, and is an improvement over that already solid record with both the songwriting and performances being stronger.
First Aid Kit is two sisters, Swedish, last name Söderberg. Klara is younger and shorter, the one with the dark bangs cut right across her heavy eyes, who sings with a crooked underbite that she could probably never set straight without wrecking the lovely specificity of her voice, the slight lisp of it, her languid vowels. Johanna, the older one, about whom everything is long (her limbs, her blondish mane), mostly sings harmony; her voice is darker and heavier and comes from somewhere different from her sister's.
Something interesting can happen when musicians from a European nation get together and pay homage to the country sounds of America. I’m thinking particularly of Bettie Serveert, a Dutch indie rock band that released a 1992 album called Palomine which seemingly paid tribute to the country-rock sounds of Gram Parsons, but added an additional layer of grungy fuzz and feedback to the proceedings, making it seem as though the band was channeling Dinosaur Jr. through Parsons’ particular blend of honky-tonk blues.
Described as the Swedish answer to the Pierces, sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, blend autumnal folk and wistful '60s Americana, and have gathered a pretty illustrious following since their cover version of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" became a YouTube hit back in 2008. As well as releasing their debut single through the Knife's Rabid Records label, they have since made Patti Smith cry with their rendition of her 1979 single "Dancing Barefoot," been courted by Jack White, who invited them to appear on two tracks for his Third Man Records' Blue Series, and now find themselves under the guidance of producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) for their second album, The Lion's Roar. It's an impressive turn of events for a duo that hails from a small suburb of Stockholm, but the follow-up to 2010's The Big Black & the Blue reveals why First Aid Kit have attracted so much attention.
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara SÃ¶derberg might originate from Sweden, but their sound reaches over to an American pastoral sound, populated by the hazy yet strident sounds of Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Beach Boys, flecked with the modern and magical re-imaginings of that world by bands like Fleet Foxes (they actually covered “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” and subsequently did a live performance with the band). The Lion’s Roar, the sisters’ second record as First Aid Kit (after 2010’s The Big Black & Blue), benefits from a maturing in both vocals and composition. Their vocals have always been decisively beautiful and stirring, but their first record sometimes suffered under the weight of their reference to what had come before.
For two Swedish sisters born on the cusp of the Clinton administration, First Aid Kit comes soaked in traditional custom. Second album, The Lion's Roar, builds on sacred ground – rugged country and fertile folk as fresh as it was originally conceived. "Emmylou" arrives as a love song searching for "Gram" or a "Johnny, too." A gentle bass pushes "This Old Routine" through amber guitars, and as a song about monotonous domesticity, it conjures a beautific wilderness to get lost in.
Johanna and Klara Söderberg, the Swedish sisters who make up First Aid Kit, were born in 1990 and 1993 respectively. This is an important piece of information because on the folk duo’s second album for Wichita, the two sound much wiser and more experienced than their ages suggest. The girls gained widespread recognition after posting a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” on YouTube back in 2008.
Album two lines the Swedes up as an act likely to cross over into the big time. Natalie Shaw 2012 Those already familiar with First Aid Kit may be shocked by the portent in the title of their second album, The Lion's Roar. For a duo so built on understatement, it's a statement of its own volition – words which suggest something bigger, bolder, and stronger.
Since the world first heard their sweet, sweet voices grace YouTube with a stunning Fleet Foxes cover three years ago, the Swedish sisters have certainly had a lot of adventures. Having released their debut album ‘The Big Black & The Blue’ in 2010, toured the globe, and written a second album with Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, we await their upcoming release with anticipation.The first single, and title track from said album is ‘The Lion’s Roar’ - a very lovely track indeed. Experimenting with a full band, rather than the raw duets of the first album, the Soderberg girls have entered into a whole new world of possibility.