The Living Sisters (The Bird & The Bee’s Inara George, Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark and singer Eleni Mandell)take the doo-wop gospel harmonies of The Andrew Sisters in the ’40s and add a spoonful of folk, a pitch of country and a whole lotta sugar. Although the super group’s vocals blend well across genres, too much sweetness, as in opener “How are you Doing,” seems saccharine. But not all is lost in Love to Live.
Equal parts doo wop, vocal jazz, and Norman Rockwell-era Americana, Love to Live is a product of another time, an album that wouldn’t seem out of place on the phonograph of some postwar American living room. It’s a clever premise, really -- assemble three L.A.-based songbirds into one girl group, give them a copy of the Andrews Sisters’ 50th Anniversary Collection, and see what happens -- and the gamble pleasantly works, at least as far as neo-nostalgia acts are concerned. Like She & Him and the Ditty Bops, the Living Sisters devote most of their time to an amalgam of retro sounds and forgotten genres, infusing a little contemporary appeal into the mix but always remaining focused on the past, not the present.
As sweet as apple pie and as American as nostalgia for a Norman Rockwell-colored era that never really existed, The Living Sisters' Love to Live is a non-guilty pleasure aimed at an all-ages audience. However, given the charming absurdity of Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), sly subversiveness of Inara George (Bird and the Bee), and no-nonsense style of Eleni Mandell, one can't help but wish for a bit more from these talented women. .
Caetano Veloso With a passing phrase in “Falso Leblon,” one of the more self-conscious tracks on “zii e zie” (Nonesuch), Caetano Veloso articulates the album’s point precisely. “Mas o meu samba transcende,” he sings — “But my samba transcends” — just as his band sets up a ….