The Upshot: An organic chilled vibe that provides a much-needed antidote to the processed tripe found on the radio these days.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
The smooth and whispery vocals of Leah and Chloe Smith lead us into the latest album from Rising Appalachia. “Novels of Acquaintance” is a really soulful summery joyful song that begins with a circular banjo line and a flourish of mandolin. The song begins to really fly when the two sisters start harmonizing with each other stretched over a rambling wagon ride of a percussive beat. “Rivermouth” is one of the surprises on the record. Crafted as a country bayou song, that harkens back to a much simpler time. It shows that the Smith sisters have done their homework.
The music evokes imagery of cattails, paint chipping off the wood on the boat, and dragonflies. The string bending adds a hazy humidity to the whole affair. “Condensation”, which is merely an interlude shows that the band also has some serious musical chops, and could be another musical direction for the sisters to widen their sound palette. “Bright Morning Stars/Botawak” gives the clearest sign yet of what makes this duo really special. With a spare bass line the sisters sing with a biblical conviction, harmonizing and summoning the intrinsic power of their expressive voices. Songs like this are a joy to hear especially given the current obsession by some artists and producers who seem hell bent in wringing the last vestiges of humanity from the music.
My only issue with Wider Circles is the energy level seems more muted than it should be on some of the songs. It’s almost as if someone said don’t sing past this level. I would like to see the band amp up the energy to a more raucous level when needed. The Smith sisters have created quite an organic chilled vibe on this record. When the songs click as many of them do they are a joy to listen to and provide the much-needed antidote to the processed tripe found on the radio these days.
DOWNLOAD: “Condensation,” “Bright Morning Stars/Botowak”