Top positive review
54 people found this helpful
First Aid Kit - Gold Rush
on 9 June 2014
When it comes to First Aid Kit and the musical journey of Swedish sisters Johanna Söderberg and Klara Söderberg, one simple principle seems to be at work. This can be linked to a formula that charts the songwriting skills of these two remarkable siblings ratchet up on every LP they release. Consequently, as 2012s "The Lions Roar" was a vast improvement on their debut "The Big Black and the Blue" it is daunting to note that with "Stay Gold" these sisters (still in their twenties) have raised the stakes again.
This new album produced by Mike Mogis oozes confidence and class. With First Aid Kit transferring to the major label Columbia, no expense has been spared on the production. The sound on the album appears beefed up although the lyrical themes are largely introspective. Two tracks from this new album namely the wordy alt-country of "My Silver Lining" and the lovely "Cedar lane" have been heavily trailed. The latter is a lament of exquisite melancholy although it is almost bettered by the hymnal vibe of the haunting "Shattered and Hollow". Unsurprisingly the voices of the Söderbergs are immaculate throughout with their glorious harmonies soaring skywards no more so than on "The Bell" where they lift the roof off the studio during the chorus.
It is undoubtedly the case that the pressures of constant touring and the media spotlight are impacting on their world view. Thus, the start of the outstanding "Waitress Song" with its almost Jeff Buckley chord structure begins with the regretful line "I could move to a small town and become a waitress/ Say my name was Stacy and figure things out". The title track goes further and is full of the kind of questioning uncertainty that denotes restlessness not least "What if to love and be loved is not enough? What if I fall and can't bear to get up? Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold". The introspection however largely disappears on the surging country of "Heaven Knows" which should get everyone up on their feet at the barn dance and shows that the sisters are not just heartbreak specialists or purveyors of Scandi-angst.
If there is a slight doubt around this album it is that it is not hugely removed from the general feel of "The Lions Roar" albeit the songs are stronger not least the lovely closing ballad "A long time ago". However, it does beg the question how long First Aid Kit can plough this furrow without their unique brand of Americana becoming tired and formulaic. But these this is a concern for another day and in any case, these two sisters have always shown a propensity to surprise with their 2011 version of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" bringing the tough New York Poet to tears. Overall "Stay Gold" is an excellent album of songs which will further catapult the already humungous reputation of this band and take them to the top of their trade.