The other night I was randomly procrastinating on Youtube, as you do, and my wonderful history auto-played ‘EmmyLou’ from First Aid Kit’s glorious second album, The Lion’s Roar’. From this, I was quickly reminded (not that I had forgotten) that Klara and Johanna Söderberg were blessing us with new music – not only that but it was being released soon. ‘EmmyLou’ represents so much of what the Söderberg sisters represent as Country singers. Their passion and fearless drive to create music of this kind are displayed so wonderfully through this genre time and time again.
I was apprehensive of what would come from ‘Ruins’ and the four-year slog the pair have put into the record. Their vocal style, songwriting talents and genre, in general, more often than not lead to, for lack of a better word, ‘samey’ music. To shine, this needed to be taken up a notch and be different. My excitement still couldn’t be contained. When I eventually got my metaphorical hands on the record I played it; cautiously at first, and then with joy.
Much to my delight, the indescribably familiar voices rang out from start to finish. Lyrically, Klara and Johanna exceed all expectation with ten unique stories delivered, not only fluently but, affluently. You’re in America. Driving through the Mid-West, hair messy from the wind, heading anywhere. From the front seat of a dust-covered convertible, the horizon darkened by heavy sunglasses, arms moving through the air rhythmically, the sun warms the spine-tingling chill that courses through you at every note. If there was a drug that made you hallucinate through your ears it would be called Söderberg. This is the now the benchmark for Americana Country music.
There are, as ever, moments where familiarity convinces you you’ve heard a melody or lyric before. However, every new element is so uplifting and beautiful that the healthy mix of old and new is sheer perfection. ‘Hem of Her Dress’ and ‘Nothing Has to Be True’ guide you caringly to the album’s climax. It is sad, but the increasingly cosy sojourn in the comfort of the pair’s care must come to an end. But then you just play it, again and again, and again, trying not to be saddened.