‘Never change a winning team’, Johanna and Klara Söderberg might have thought when they started to work on their third album. So the Swedish sisters travelled from Stockholm to the ARC Studios in Omaha where they had Mike Mogis produce Stay Gold. Two years ago the folk/country expert and BRIGHT EYES collaborator had helped The Lion’s Roar achieve a highly positive rating. Listening to the first minutes of the new LP, it’s quite obvious that FIRST AID KIT resume their proven strategy.
Again they are sending their perfectly harmonizing voices ahead and rally keyboards, autoharp and guitars around them to create a sound (this time gently expanded by the Omaha Symphony Orchestra) that could score sunny American runaway movies as well as morbid Scandinavian coming-of-age dramas.
There is no doubt – the Twentysomethings stayed gold or rather true to themselves and they managed to keep an attentive and independent view on their world, even if they are now signed to a major label.
Johanna and Klara are never just mindlessly duetting but fill every song with meaning and character. It’s unambiguous that FIRST AID KIT consists of two strong female identities with own experiences and own ideas. That’s what makes them special and rare among a male-dominated music scene.
Even if FIRST AID KIT sing love (or rather loss) ballads like A Long Time Ago or the waltzing Cedar Lane, their voices still remain strong, especially in the final lines of Cedar Lane. At those passages the two could have used their voice volume even a little more.
Not even the Uhhuhus in the greatly arranged My Silver Lining sound ridiculous or trivial. I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon / Having no idea who or what or where I am / Something good comes with the bad / A song’s never just sad / There’s hope, there’s a silver lining, they sing and it isn’t hard to trust in their mature opinion and to believe that there are silver linings on the cloudy horizons of all those empty, insecure roads.
FIRST AID KIT seem to be above it all and if their Waitress Song mentions the possibility of becoming a small-town-waitress or joining the circus with all its freaks and sad clowns, this isn’t just a pseudo-romantic idea but a serious outline of a dignified life.
Hopefully FIRST AID KIT stick to music nevertheless and will not change their gold-wining team so far.
Golden voices, golden melodies and silver linings on the cloudy horizons of emptiness and unfinished self-discovery. Thank you FIRST AID KIT for staying gold.
NBHAP Rating: 4,5/5