First Aid Kit - King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Mon 27 Feb
Young Swedish sisters' take on country hints at originality and potential
One of the things that really stands out on Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg’s recent second album, The Lion’s Roar, is the maturity of the songwriting. It’s striking how these two, with barely 40 years on this planet between them, have produced a set of songs so thoughtful and penetrative, and the resultant record is richly beautiful for this and many other reasons.
If anything, in real life the pair look even younger than they are, and confronted with their babyfaced presence singing songs of painful heartache and marital drudgery, something doesn’t quite sit right. That’s not to suggest that it’s necessary to leave a trail of broken whisky bottles and rumpled trailer park bedsheets in one’s wake in order to write credible country music, but what the pair have created here is a perfectly observed, loving pastiche of the genre, and it’ll take some time before they grow fully into it. (It’s – perhaps knowingly – ironic that they choose as their only cover of the night early supporter Fever Ray’s ‘When I Grow Up’.)
All that said, there are songs, like ‘To A Poet’, where the pain rings sincere, and the vulnerability of the chorus is only compounded by the youth of the sisters’ voices. And what voices: perfectly suited to the genre, clear and strong even on high notes beyond the reach of most, and complementary in their harmonising – one sharper and more piercing, the other more softly undercutting it with deeper and more rounded tones.
Such talents, coupled with nimble guitar playing and a charming stage presence make this an engaging show. Meanwhile moments like that unusual choice of cover, or like the startling bit in ‘Dance to Another Tune’ where the song suddenly switches from countrified trundle to a mini psychedelic wig-out, as swiftly followed by Spector-esque la la las, before chopping back to the main melody, hint at the originality and potential here. Watch this space.