Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Third Man Records
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
The evocative debut album from Petra, Rachel, and Tanya Haden, the daughters of legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden, was recorded in front of a single microphone in Tanya's living room, and produced by guitar legend Ry Cooder. Bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs picks the mandolin on three tracks, renowned bass man Rene Comacho supplies the low end, and Cooder's son Joachim rounds out the ultra-refined supergroup on the drums, but it's the Haden Triplets and their untouched yet effortless harmonies, the kind that can only be derived via the preternatural harmonic instinct shared by siblings, that provide all of the chills (the good, non-flu kind). Steeped in tradition yet bereft of the sense of calculated authenticity that can sometimes seep into similarly sepia-toned projects, the Hadens have spent so much of their lives absorbing every instance of American music, from folk, country, and bluegrass to jazz, blues, and gospel, that the souls of the songs are in their very breaths, and in choosing to tackle covers for their first project together, they managed to unify three very distinct creative voices.
Third Man Records has become a beautiful alchemy of sounds that never allows itself to get comfortable in any one genre. It embraces virtually anything that strokes a musical itch, business sense be damned. While American folk and roots music have been seeing a strong revival over the last few years and even garnering some major awards acclaim, they aren’t exactly putting label ledgers into the black on the whole.
The short liner notes for the Haden Triplets album say they recorded these traditional folk/mountain/country songs “to help keep them alive.” But the lack of detailed song information/production credits doesn’t help much with giving the music recognition; the source of just one of the 13 tracks is identified – Bill Monroe’s “Voice From On High.” Obviously, you can use the Internet to track down the missing information (or, if you’re a journalist, a publicist). But considering this is a Ry Cooder production released through Jack White’s label, it’s curious more effort at outreach and education about the songs wasn’t made. After all, they’re musicologists as well as musicians.
Broken Bells straighten out their priorities on their second album, “After the Disco.” James Mercer, the Shins’ singer and songwriter, and Danger Mouse, the producer whose real name is Brian Burton, staked out a concept on their first album as Broken Bells, the 2010 “Broken Bells”: They delivered downhearted lyrics using a very particular palette. Broken Bells determinedly reconstructed an analog era steeped in wistful memories, using sliding synthesizer lines, Kraut-rock bass tones and primitive drum machines. Unfortunately, they got so busy showing off their allusions that the solid songs were buried in gimmicks.
The Haden Triplets (Third Man) Yes, they're really triplets, the daughters of Olympian jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Petra, Rachel, and Tanya made music separately for years, in bands like That Dog, Silversun Pickups, the Rentals, and the Decemberists; Petra also worked as a solo act for a time. The trio's debut features a supporting cast of Ry Cooder producing and adding guitar and mandolin, his son Joachim on drums, and Ricky Skaggs contributing mandolin on a few tracks.