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Monday, 20 February 2012 11:15

Album review: First Aid Kit heals, stings and soars on 'The Lion's Roar'

Album review: First Aid Kit heals, stings and soars on 'The Lion's Roar'
Written by Joe Duepner
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First Aid Kit
"The Lion's Roar"
Wichita

To single out one song for praise on the new First Aid Kit album "The Lion's Roar" would be akin to extolling the beauty of a single stone in a mosaic.

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With the help of producer Mike Mogis the Swedish sisters have given their sound and songwriting an overall brilliant polish.

For most artists convening in the Midwest to record their sophomore album the ac tmight be seen as a retreat into the hinterland. For Johanna and Klara Söderberg it was more of a pilgrimage. They got to record with Conor Oberst, the man who produced some of their favorite records and their self-described hero. Though he only appears on the closing song, his firewater spirit inhabits much of the album.

Separately and together the sisters also have a quality Conor always bemoaned he lacked: a fantastic voice. They bend notes into harmonies as if their vocal cords come equipped with whammy bars, and on songs like "To a Poet" their vocal melodies pitch and roll across the sky like biplanes trailing smoke. The voices intertwine and then break off into solitary loops only to find each other again at the apex or nadir.

Just as the Stones lined their veins with blues records out of Chicago to pump out some of the greatest rock 'n' roll the world had heard, First Aid Kit has done Americana better than almost anyone currently dwelling this side of the Atlantic. Does it take outsiders to see the better picture through the details? Perhaps.

And perhaps someday someone will write a paean to Johanna and Klara much like their own plea to Gram and June on "Emmylou."

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