A pretty large chunk of my 2012 musical consumption has come from the far north Atlantic. The best song I’ve heard so far this year was from Iceland, and this week I’ll be covering a few more Scandinavian artists. First on the list is the two sisters that make up First-Aid Kit.
They got a bit of fame a couple years ago with their cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” by Fleet Foxes going viral on Youtube. I don’t even actually like that song very much, but there’s something unbelievably enchanting about their video. They’re just these two Swedish kids sitting on a log in the forest, but the sound is far beyond their apparent years. It’s strangely haunting.
Their new record The Lion’s Roar demonstrates a continued commitment to the sound of Americana. That’s best seen on the absolutely lovely “Emmylou” which is an ode to some of the country partnerships of old “I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June, if you’ll be my Graham and my Johnny, too.” It’s an ode to love, companionship, partnership, and a long history of music. The vocals remind me a lot of The Innocence Mission – with that haunting, shimmery catch in their voices.
Elsewhere, the opening track “The Lion’s Roar” has some absolutely perfect vocal harmonies and the closer “King of the World” is a great stomping conclusion, with Ring of Fire horns and a Conor Oberst interlude. And yes, it all works together perfectly. “This Old Routine” has a wonderful slide guitar bridge, and that wonderful feel of an end-of-the-night ballad. And “I Found a Way” reminds me of the dark tracks you’d find buried on an old Neko Case album.
There are a few tracks in the middle of the record that don’t quite stick the landing. But it’s hard to complain too much about such a self-possessed and flat-out beautiful record.