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THE SECRET SISTERS —YOU DON’T OWN ME ANYMORE (New West)

 

www.newwestrecords.com

 

www.secretsisters.com

 

You Don’t Own Me Anymore could in all reality be seen as Alabama’s Secret Sisters’ comeback album. For despite the fact it is only three years since their last album, Put Your Needle Down the intervening period saw their career take a severe downward spiral. This as they (Laura Rogers and Lydia Slagle (Rogers) were dropped by their label, things got so bad they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Laura at one point took a job cleaning houses such was their state of affairs. But now, through the support and help of people like Brandi Carlile who offered to produce an album for them with her collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth we a new record. It would not have been possible but for fans lending support for a Pledge Music campaign launched by the sisters. The amount needed was reached in just over a month. With this boast in confidence the girls got down in earnest, writing new material for the record, and with help from the three producers plus Matthew Perryman Jones (“Carry Me”) and Cheyenne Medders (“The Damage”) we were in business. It still left room for Paul Simon’s plaintive folk ballad “Kathy’s Song”, they had previously recorded a single that featured among others Simon.  

 

While I could happily have picked a more cheery note to close, “Flee As A Bird” the traditional tune is given lyrics courtesy of Mary Shindler is more sombre and purer than the many might welcome. Beautifully performed though it might be. Otherwise, it is business as usual as the girls provide seamless harmonies and superb lead vocals throughout. But you would expect nothing less from them! The Secret Sisters are an extraordinarily talented who make music unique to them selves; although some songs are of a vintage vein like they come from an old chest found in someone’s attic.So authentic sounding are they. 

 

Back to the main core of the album, one that has them spread their wings. On occasions the lyrics speak of some of hard times and disappointments as they embrace with vigour music of the American South. Powered by players Tim and Phil Hanseroth (acoustic, electric, slide, bass guitar, banjo, drums and percussion between them), Carlile) guitar, piano, synth), plus Mark Pickerel (drums) Josh Neumann (cello), Jacob Hoffman (piano, French horn) the production is first class. “Tennessee River Runs Low” is a thrusting restless number as strains of jazz and folk join country and through the use of banjo and, with “Mississippi” (complete with gorgeous harmonies, and some David Rawlings-esque guitar) the album could not enjoy a finer start away. And with the neatly package, old sounding “Carry Me” speak of feeling the shame of seeing the money has gone, and with them speaking of how they miss Alabama and its southern charm “King Cotton” is superb. Loaded in powerful vocals, banjo and barroom piano a good time is had by everyone, it sounds like it was recorded live with no additions.

 

Paul Simon’s “Kathy’s Song” is a perfect vehicle for their tender close knit vocal harmonies, I believe, if asked they could perform an hours worth music of this ilk. So effortless and beautiful is the sound that transpires. One of the strongest, and most melodic songs on the record is the excellent “He’s Fine”. Set to be a huge favourite live it speaks of a girl about to get married and how her future husband cheats on her with a Louisiana girl. Striking while the iron is hot they ease, sweetly through tender ballad “To All The Girls Who Cry”. While with recollections of childhood days, and wanting to relive those times they speak of how it would nice to be “Little Again”. Their terrific sibling vocals, and sympathetic backing is as good if not better than on anytime on the album. More contemporary, but in a good way you have “You Don’t Own Me Anymore”. Folky ballad “The Damage” shows grace and great poise as not for the one and only time they come up with vocals, and a general sound from way back and with some of finest vocals on the record the pop country “'Til It's Over” is peerless. No one does it better!

 

                                              Maurice Hope              

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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