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4.7 out of 5 stars60
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Once upon a time two sisters walked into a Swedish forest, one with a guitar the other looking painfully young at the age of 16 and they both sang a song. The tune in question was a spine tingling cover of Fleet Foxes "Tiger mountain peasant song" and the sisters posted a video of it on the internet. It turned into a quiet and persistent sensation having been viewed well over 2 million times. The sisters in question were Johanna Söderberg and Klara Söderberg and their band is First Aid Kit. Happily suspending the fact that they are from Sweden they produce the type of Americana which is heartfelt and passionate, Their debut album 2010s "Big Black & The Blue" was a showcase for their brilliant voices although it was if truth be told a tad downbeat, lacking in variety in some parts and the echoes of Robin Pecknold's Seattle wonders were everywhere.

On their latest album "The Lions Roar" there is a clear and determined attempt made to rock things up and give a bigger sound. The bittersweet harmonies remain firmly in place but better songs with fuller production are everywhere plus growing signs that the sisters can write a fine set of lyrics. They recently reduced Patti Smith to a tearful wreck with a stirring version of her "Dancing Barefoot", yet it is to that other female giant of music that this albums finest song is dedicated. "Emmylou" name checks the romance of Harris with her true love Gram Parsons, plus June Carter with the Man in Black. It could easily be clichéd and trite but instead it is a splendid country concoction and possibly the finest thing the sisters have done. There must be composers in Nashville thinking that a monster has been created in Stockholm that can out countrify them in every respect. The opening title track equally sees the sisters drawing from Dylan and Cash with considerable aplomb, harmonies to die for and a melody drawn from the ages in a powerful alt country ballad. Indeed the opening three songs which conclude with the "In the hearts of men" a song Neko Case would have mortgaged her house to write sees First Aid Kit barely putting a foot wrong. Further musical peaks arrive in the form of the beautiful ringing gentle ballad "Blue" (not a Joni Mitchell cover) and the wonders of the rolling "To a poet" which certainly has a Fleet Foxes tinge and is frankly all the better for it. A step change comes when the sisters truly cut loose on the last track with a rollicking hoedown entitled "King of the world". This reviewer was idly speculating that the Felice brothers who have sadly lost their mojo of late should produce a song of this quality when by happy accident some of them turn up with Conor Oberst to sing backing vocals. This serendipity is actually rather obvious when you hear this joyous song jam packed with handclaps, violins, accordions and horns (one can only hope that Ian Felice has exercised his demons since the troubling "Celebration Florida"). Finally a doff of the cap to the gorgeous strummed lament "New Years Eve" which is solid proof that First Aid Kit are maturing into an act as classy as a pair of Jimmy Choo's. Please seek this song out you will adore it.

"The Lion's Roar" is the sound of a band rapidly maturing at light speed with a talent well beyond their years. Listen to their first EP "Drunken Trees" and chart the scale of the journey to this new LP and the size of the musical leap. It's all quite remarkable and in the context of the evolving story of the Söderberg's we should warmly welcome the fact that "sisters are doing it for themselves".
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on 25 February 2012
just been to Manchester to watch a First Aid Kit gig and was blown away just how good these girls are. Absolutely wonderful songwriting ability and maturity way beyond there young age. Both sisters possess great voices with great range and projection.The vocals are as good live as any studio produced cd

There is not one bad track or filler on this album the quality remains constantly high throughout each track.

Its easy to forget these girls are Swedish such is the rich Americana folk sound and vocals.

I will stick my head on the line and say this is the 2012 album of the year and a must for anyone with an ounce of musical nouse.
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This is the second glorious album from Swedish sisters Klara and Johana Soderberg (and Benkt plus Mattias Bercqvist great names by the way) and a `difficult second album' this most certainly aint. It kicks off with the title track with a song that has one foot in country and the other infolk with pedal steel and mandolin to boot. `Emylou' is just beautiful with pared back simplicity and harmonious vocals to die for.
`In the hearts of men' slows down the pace but is hauntingly languid and just washes over you like sunshine on a winter's day (God I am getting real gushy here sorry). Track 4 `Blue' gets the tempo up a beat with a lovely song of missed chances.

`This old routine' is probably my favourite, although it is hard to choose from so many gems, with a rich lilting vocal on a tale of love worn through with beautiful mandolin and an underscored percussion that Tindersticks would be proud of (probably!) Track 8 `I found a way' is another tale of dark and flawed love that the beautiful harmonies hide like a gossamer veil.

Penultimate track `New Years Eve' is an effortless blending of simple arrangements with a crystal clear vocal that flows like a tributary to a great river. This leads us into `King of the World' which is a lovely slice of country life and we have guest instruments of violin, trumpet and accordion, almost a ho-down, and a great way to finish a truly beautiful album. I can't wait to see them later this year and for album number three, this though is an absolute triumph.
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Fortunately I had listened to The Lion's Roar before I read the simpering comparisons with Fleet Foxes, whose album I managed to listen to a couple of times before the Grossly Overrated light came on.

No, this is actually a record with variety and verve, and outstanding harmonies which are nevertheless not the duo's be-all. The only, very occasional, cracks in the wallpaper occur when there appear to have been too many words to fit with the music and there's a scramble to finish the line before the bar finishes, and when the enunciation of the words takes a back seat to the direction of the melody, factors which may end up being endearing, but they haven't quite yet.

Apart from the harmonies, the entire collection is dominated by excellent arrangements and instrumentation, from the guitars and keyboards through to accordion, strings and horns.

Three tracks in particular stand out. The opening, title track is an immediate hook, a beautiful song sung to a 3/4 beat with background woodwind instrumentation that is uncredited but sounds like tenor recorders, although it's more likely to be flute. Dance To Another Tune also begins in 3/4, but there's a change to 4/4 which effects a quite dramatic mood change, which is accompanied by some Beach Boys-like vocalising. And King Of The World, which closes the set, has some great, Latino-tinged trumpet and lyrics which read, and are delivered, so ambiguously that it's difficult to know if it's a sad or happy song, and somehow works as both, and features an evocative image of a waitress sitting smoking outside a restaurant. She has a look of total fear in her eyes, we're told, but still manages a smile as the singer drives off. What, I'm wondering, is the story behind that?

Also deserving a special mention is Emmylou, which namechecks the lady herself plus Gram, Johnny and June, and the hauntingly in-your-face lyrics of Blue, especially the lines about the death in a car accident of an only love.
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on 26 January 2012
This is a truly outstanding album. Superb composition, vocals, balance - a lovely overall sound that cannot really be classified. Very talented band with a great future.
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on 17 May 2012
This a superb album, indie folk / pop at its best. 10 great tracks, no fillers, amazing voacls, and fantastic music. Since playing the album for the first time, the CD hasnt left my CD player, and I was hooked on the first listen. Certain albums are growers and take time to win you over, not this one, its brilliant from track 1 - track 10. So glad I came across this album and have now booked my ticket for November 22nd in Manchester. Dear Klara / Johanna, please follow this great album with another. Ian
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on 28 January 2012
hello Sweden. What a beautiful album. These two swedish girls can be as big as they want, just keep on making more albums like this. After I first heard this I read that they had been playing with Fleet Foxes as a warm up- band. They must be some of Fleet Foxes`favourites now. The music can take you to a new dimension of happiness and harmony. Hello Sweeden and thank you thank you thank you for theese fantastic girls
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on 27 August 2012
Have had this album on re-play throughout the summer! This sublime Folk Americana Album is actually written by 2 Swedish sisters. There voices work in perfect harmony together. Personal favourites are Emmylou, King Of The World, The Lion's Roar, Wolf, I Found A Way, Blue and To A Poet. One great track leads on to another and the whole album is a pure delight to listen to whatever mood you are in. Honestly, If you like folk music, then definitely add this one to your playlist!
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on 26 August 2012
If you've heard one or two FAK tunes and are wondering if the album is worth buying - think no more - this album is crammed FULL of amazingly repeatable tunes. I can't get enough of them. The only downside is the tunes somewhat eerily keep repeating in my head all day long. Fantastic CD for a second album. Will become a classic.
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on 8 May 2012
This blissful album is perfect for a spring Sunday, put it on and let it take you somewhere new. This album is a sweet blend of heartfelt lyric and optimistic melody, it is reflective and uplifting whilst tipping a wink to past albums and a quiet pine towards some of the bands influences, such as the fleet foxes and Pattie Smith.
There is so much depth here that it is easy to reach the end of the album and simply hit play again !

This latest release from Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, features The Felice Brothers and local Omaha musician Conor Oberst who sings on the amazing "king of the world". The album opens with the complex and refined "The Lions Roar" and melts into your Brain from the first silky notes.

Produced by Mike Mogis in Omaha, Nebraska, who has Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis, Monsters of Folk to name but a few to his name....
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