There are a couple of ways musicians can rise above the rest of the crop and stand out. One way is to just be the best, pure and simple. Another way would be to do something that no one has ever done before. Yet another way would be to get people like Jack White and Conor Oberst to put their stamp of approval on your work. In a very short time First Aid Kit has managed to combine these three and create the best pure americana album in years. The fact that they hail from Sweden only adds to the level of genius on display in their new record, The Lion’s Roar.
Johanna and Klara Soderberg are sisters who have been playing music together for the past five years. Their closeness as siblings pays off when they harmonize vocals, which is almost always. Their voices combine to create a force that demands attention, as when they claim on the title track, “I’m a goddamn coward, but then again so are you.” Together their voices project strength and vulnerability that can be felt in the listener’s bones.
The first time I heard this record was about a week ago. Since then I’ve heard it maybe fifteen or twenty times all the way through. I’m convinced that if they get the recognition they deserve, they’ll probably be this year’s Adele. Of course, they don’t sing shitty pop music, so that probably won’t happen. What will happen, most likely, is people like me will talk them up for most of the year, and high ups at record companies will say, “But how will they sell more Pepsi?” or “It’s ok, but I don’t really hear a hit.”
To that point, I give you “Emmylou.” This song is probably the best country song I’ve heard in a long, long time. It reaches a perfect balance between tribute to those that came before and a vision of the future of folk music. If this isn’t the biggest hit of the year on country radio by the end of the year, I will have lost all hope in humanity. Take a listen and see if you agree with me:
I don’t want to oversell this album, but I think it’s going to be a huge success for the band. I don’t know who the genius was who decided to release all these amazing albums in January is, but he should get a raise. There has been a never-ending supply of great music since New Year’s, and The Lion’s Roar may be the best yet. The album has already been released internationally, and it comes out here in the states on January 24th. I urge you to pick it up. If you aren’t convinced yet, here are a couple more things to prod you toward the record…
Recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, the album was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and features Conor Oberst on vocals for the last song “King Of The World.” Also, they use the phrase “goddam” at a rate fairly close to the F-bombs in The Big Lebowski.
First Aid Kit will kick off their US tour in New York City on March 28th, and will hit Chicago on April 6th (Lincoln Hall). They’ll also be playing the Coachella Festival in April.
As we part, here’s a terrible video someone put up of my other favorite song on the record, “This Old Routine.”