The Watson Twins: Fire Songs

They may have shared top billing with Jenny Lewis on her Rabbit Fur Coat album two years ago, but to a not-inconsiderable number of people, Leigh and Chandra Watson came across as a sort of backwoods version of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls. What could be hipper, after all, than vaguely creepy-looking twins in evening gowns? The Watson Twins did more than just add a “Shining” vibe to Lewis’ album artwork, though; the Kentucky natives had been bumming around Silverlake since the late ’90s, and their roots and background helped Lewis anchor her solo debut in authentic Southern harmony. That being said, a word of warning is in order: Fans looking for Rabbit redux – or even a record with more than the occasional slightly up-tempo track – will be disappointed here, because the sisters’ full-length debut recalls nothing so much as a Natalie Merchant solo album. The harmonies are lovely, and the songs occasionally strike melodic paydirt (opener “How Am I to Be” and “Map to Where You Are” come to mind), but the above-average moments are too few and far between to recommend the album to anyone who doesn’t have a closet full of billowing floral-print skirts. (Vanguard 2008)

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