Album Review: Put Your Needle Down by The Secret Sisters
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
The Secret Sisters, the singing and songwriting duo of sisters (it's really not so much of a secret) Lydia and Laura Rogers, hit the O Brother Americana vein with their self-titled debut album in 2011, a T-Bone Burnett-produced facsimile gem that reimagined and re-created the feel of 1940s traditional country and honky tonk, made more than that by the bright, assured distaff Everly Brothers-styled singing of the two sisters. It was an impressive debut, but it also was one that could have easily painted the Secret Sisters into a dusty back-alley country corner stylistically. This was obviously on everybody's mind, because this second Burnett-produced album updates the sound a decade or so into a mesh of folky honky tonk, garage rock, and girl group ballads, with a touch of Daniel Lanois-like swampy noodling on a few tracks, making Put Your Needle Down sound a bit like Emmylou Harris' Lanois-produced Wrecking Ball as sung by the Everly Brothers' little sisters while fronting the Cowboy Junkies.
Even though the Secret Sisters haven’t released an album since their lauded 2010 debut, Laura and Lydia Rogers have kept in the game by performing a song (“Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”) on the Hunger Games soundtrack and co-writing another (“Let There Be Lonely”) that was used on ABC’s Nashville. Their second full-length, Put Your Needle Down, keeps the focus on their mesmerizing harmonies but still demonstrates intriguing artistic progression. On their self-titled debut, it was a novelty to hear their gorgeous vocals taking on country classics and traditional material.
If the 2010 self-titled debut from the Secret Sisters proved that siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers could find success with something traditional, its follow-up, Put Your Needle Down, shows that they aren’t going to stay in anyone else’s shadow. It’s less formulaic and safe, more expansive and bold, while rarely losing the harmony-rich charm that seems to feel as comfortable with sugary pop as it does with dark, ominous arrangements. Put Your Needle Down doesn’t sound like it’s something the godmothers of country would have made.
Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers from Alabama made a stir with a 2010 debut that cast them as country revivalists with cotton dresses and vintage songs. Their impeccable sibling harmonies remain, and there's a cover of the Everly Brothers' Lonely Island, but the pair are keen to parade their own, grown-up material, including a chilly murder ballad, Luka. Producer T Bone Burnett again oversees, dressing the likes of The Pocket Knife in the shimmer and quiet thunder he lent Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's Raising Sand.