Spectacularly safe songs from this Canadian trio, cut from the same cloth as the Living Sisters, the Be Good Tanyas, and the Secret Sisters––cute lyrics, harmonies that recall the real classic girl groups such as the Andrews Sisters and a vibe that makes the group entirely appropriate for Prairie Home Companion or other NPR shows. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, see, somebody has got to work that terrain and it might as well be these ladies, who’ve been performing together since 2006.
Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough, and Sue Passmore hit the air dooh-ah-doohing with “Made For Rain” and “Free”, tracks that surely go down gangbusters in the live setting with their tales of love and like and all those sweet little things. Elsewhere, “Old Highway” and “Best I Know” find the three sunshine-drenched ladies taking a more serious turn, their harmonies unmistakably fine and their grasp of the material remarkable, convincing, earnest without being overly earnest.
The writing is unmistakably fine––the music may recall traditional music but it never tries too hard to recall times that are long gone, and therefore the trio avoids being hokey, limited. It would be easy for Brooks and Co. to fall into parody and still gain an audience, but the ladies play it straight and from the heart and, generally speaking, it works.
Taken individually, many of the songs are memorable, sweet, funny, heartwarming, heartfelt, sincere, easy to sing, easy to enjoy, smile-inspiring, fun for the individual and the family, the kind of thing that Mom and Dad would like, etc. Trouble is, as with even one’s favorite candy, too many of these songs, one after the other, and the listener begins to feel a little overwhelmed by all the niceties, the sweetness, the purity, the cuteness, the innocence, the, well, civility of it all.
That said, it’s really hard not to like these ladies and get swept away in the general goodwill of this all, especially “Oh, What a Thing”, which might just make you dance inside your cubicle. Maybe that’s the problem here––perhaps we’ve forgotten how good it can feel to feel good that unpretentious displays of joy like this just seem foreign, almost unwarranted in this day and time. Hey, if doesn’t make us over intellectualize, what good can it be?
So, if the Canadian ladies have anything to offer us––besides the smiles and songs––it’s that general sense of good will, that reminder that life and love do not have to be all that sad and that we can indeed get through all this and have a good time. Maybe that’s not the worst thing to happen to all of us, maybe that’s not the worst thing to happen to music.
Best things here? “Every Little Thing”, “Crabbuckit”, “Kiss Me in the Kitchen”, and “Made For Rain”, though there’s not really a bum note in the lot––even the skeptic in me, the man who smiles and cheers with reluctance at each happy note, approves of this charming and life-affirming record. Damn.
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// Notes from the Road
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