Album Review: The Secret Sisters by Secret Sisters
Very Good, Based on 5 Critics
PopMatters - 80 Based on rating 8/10
A great friend of mine, also a great musician, once told me that to produce a successful cover song, you must maintain the integrity of the original while still making it your own. I bring this up because the eponymous debut album by the Secret Sisters is essentially a covers album, sporting only two originals. This would normally be a big problem for me, but let me explain why, in this situation, it is not.
Revivalism is a tricky business. If you're re-creating a style from another era -- as opposed to merely putting a modern spin on it -- you've got to walk a fine line between paying homage to the past and bringing your own personality into play. Not many can manage it, but on their self-titled debut album, the Secret Sisters seem to have successfully brought classic country sounds into the present with a feeling of timelessness rather than dusty archive-spelunking.
There are, you might imagine, a variety of problems attached to being an artist catapulted towards fame at a pace that means within five months of playing your first gig, you're being feted not by a deadline-harassed workie on the NME, but by the venerable dowagers of the rock aristocracy, Elton John, Elvis Costello and Willie Nelson among them. You have to navigate accusations of nepotism, charges of hype, the problem of staying grounded within a whirlwind of attention, keeping your chin up while in close proximity to the legendarily sunny personality of Elvis Costello. It's unlikely, however, that you might imagine these problems include being spotted by your fans talking on a mobile in public.
Alabama sisters’ T-Bone Burnett-aided debut is a strong, promising start. Andrew Mueller 2011 The eponymous debut by The Secret Sisters – aka Laura and Lydia Rogers of Muscle Shoals, Alabama – poses itself an enormous challenge: that of recording (mostly) old songs, on old equipment, with some fairly venerable musicians, without sounding like a prim, worthy exercise in curation. That the album is a minor triumph is testament to both the durability of the songs, and the astonishing gifts of the singers.
While there may be some mystique left about them, The Secret Sisters are doing their best to become extremely well-known, thanks to their self-titled debut album. “Come, come and Tennessee me/Tennessee me waiting here/I’m lonely tonight/But feeling alright/Why don’t you come over here?” sing the Alabama-born duo Laura and Lydia Rogers on “Tennessee Me,” a piano-driven song begging for a slow dance on a summer night. We should all heed their request.