One of 2008's true gems.
Daryl Easlea 2008-07-04
The Watson Twins are Kentucky-born, Los Angeles-residing identical sisters Chandra and Leigh Watson, who first sprung to prominence with Jenny Lewis. They made the much-loved Rabbit Fur Coat album with her, appearing on the cover like something from The Shining. Fire Songs is the twins' debut proper, after their critically acclaimed EP Southern Manners. Produced by Russell Pollard and J. Soda, the album feels important, which is underlined by its release on the Vanguard label, the former home of Joan Baez and John Fahey.
Fire Songs is full of beguiling surprise. It's familiar, it's unknown. The cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven is the album's novelty, but fortunately it steers clear of being its curse. This version is so marvelously crafted that it relocates one of Robert Smith's least claustrophobic works to the world of swooning Americana; the emotion so conveyed perfectly by the twins. You'd think its power would overwhelm the rest of Fire Songs, but the album quickly does with a brisk slide into Map To Where You Are. We are immersed in their own sweet swing, with a little mariachi trumpet mixed into surf guitar inflections. When the sisters sing “you’re my only vice/I’ve given up the drinkin’ and the late nights” on Dig A Little Deeper, it is conveyed with a believable rawness of emotion. Elsewhere, Bar Woman Blues touches on the bright soul-folk of Christine McVie's Fleetwood Mac.
Fire Songs is earthy, earnest music, delivered with a deftness of touch. It's one of 2008's true gems.