With the folk revival laying waste to the charts since the start of the decade, bands such as Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes and The Lumineers have been enjoying healthy careers as of late. Acoustic guitars are flying off the shelves and even the EDM scene has come searching for a slice of the action with Avicii’s “farm house” genre spawning number one hits left, right and centre. Some might say that the market is saturated, and they might very well have a point, but that’s not to say we should disregard new acoustic outfits as simply jumping on the bandwagon.
First Aid Kit are two sisters from Sweden who have been on taste makers radars for a while now. Having already played the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, had one of their tracks remixed by brostep artist Bauuer and having released two albums to critical acclaim they’re a well-established band looking to take the leap into the mainstream. ‘Stay Gold’ is their third effort and will take anyone expecting just another addition to the scene by surprise.
This isn’t an indie folk album, this is full blown country, complete with slide guitar and harmonies that wouldn’t sound a miss on a Dolly Parton record. Album opener and first single ‘My Silver Lining’ is a myriad of finger plucked strings and violin “gotta keep on keeping on” punctuating the first verse.
The sister’s first release back in 2012 was described as haunting at times and this atmosphere of intensity is still present in the album, especially in title track Stay Gold. There’s a difference however, instead of dwelling on this sadness like in previous efforts, First Aid Kit have added a light at the end of the tunnel. Cedar Lane and The Waitress Song skip along without a care in the world, (even if the lyrics of the latter feature the line it’s a dark twisted road we’re on”).
Sweden via Nashville continues on Heaven Knows and reaches the height of its powers on ‘The Bell’ which throws everything the duo have learned to this point into three minutes and twenty eight seconds, a definite highlight. However the albums showstopper is ‘A Long Time Ago’, a piano led ballad which chronicles the tale of heart break and lost love. It’s a poignant note to end on.
‘Stay Gold’ begs the question is country music due a revival? Sure, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus have roots in the genre, but they long abandoned these for the bright lights of fame and fortune. First Aid Kit built on their minimalist sound and have ended up in the Mississippi. It’s progression that is honest and a true representation of what this band wants to be. There might be a bandwagon speeding along beside them, but this is one band that won’t be changing course anytime soon.
Alex Jones – www.foryourreadingentertainment.com