This is the second album from the Swedish folk duo (sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg) released January 2012 on the Redeye (USA) and Witchita (UK) labels. It was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, The Faint and many more).
Their first album ‘The Big Black & The Blue’ caught many ears and the duo were championed by no less than Jack White and The Fleet Foxes who they have since collaborated with. The recording process for ‘The Lion’s Roar’ was undertaken after they had completed a relentless world tour consisting of more than 100 shows!
Despite being a country/folk album it features quite a large array of guest musicians providing bass guitar, piano, trumpet, drums, acoustic guitar and accordion spread throughout the 10 tracks on offer.
From the outset it is clear that the beautiful voices of the two sisters are to be the focal point of the record. They sing individually and also together, providing some sweet and melancholy vocal harmonies. It’s a fairly laid back affair for the most part but there is an omnipresent brooding darkness that separates it from a lot of the throwaway country/folk canon (like the disgustingly positive Jack Johnson et al), and it can certainly be favourably compared to works from Fleet Foxes, Wilco and Bonnie Prince Billy.
The most prominent instruments (vocals aside) are the lovely understated acoustic guitar from Klara and the piano of Ben Brodin and Nate Walcott which are sprinkled tastefully over several of the tracks. The Hammond organ (also played by Walcott) adds a mystical aura to certain tracks like the excellent “I Found A Way”.
If I have a complaint about this album, it is that it’s slightly same-y throughout and while not coming close to being boring it will mainly appeal to a particular demographic niche. After the final track “King Of The World” evanesces away into silence, I was left feeling a little unsatisfied. Only one track stands out as being stylistically different to the rest, the country soaked “Emmylou”. That aside, this is an album with no spikes or shocks and it works seamlessly as an integrated work with not one sound seeming ancillary.
Standout tracks are the excellent title track, the country tinged “Emmylou”, the haunting “I Found A Way” and the fantastic piano driven ballad “Dance To Another Tune”
This album is highly recommended for fans of folk, alt-country and the softer side of rock/pop. If punk or metal are your go it’s probably not for you. However, fans of any genre will appreciate the wonderful singing on the album which is flawlessly impressive from start to finish. Despite some of the tracks being vague and indistinguishable, there are some real gems here and the duo have deservedly won plaudits from reviewers and musical contemporaries alike.
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