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Jessie & Layla

Kinetic

(Second Shimmy; US: 13 Feb 2007; UK: 5 Feb 2007)

Kinetic, the debut full-length from Irish sister duo Jessie & Layla, is one of the happiest little surprises of early 2007. These sweet-voiced lasses craft acoustic-y indie pop with rich, golden harmonies and blissfully catchy melodies. The one comparison I can’t shake is to the Bangles’ greatly under-appreciated first album, All Over the Place, if it had more of an unplugged vibe. Going back one generation further, these girls combine a jangly early Byrds pop sound with the California dreaminess of the Mamas and the Papas (if they were all Mamas, that is). Although every song on this disc is sublime, stand-outs include the big, catchy numbers—“Tonight”, “Move On”, “Rusty Old Camera”, and “Freezin Up”—along with the slow and tender chamber folk of “So Long”.


In addition to providing heavenly vocals, both Jessie and Layla Collins play acoustic guitar and percussion, while the latter also contributes keyboards, harp, and harmonica. A slew of other musicians add drums, bass, and strings. Producer Liam Mulvaney has his hand in almost all of these, likely shaping many of the sharp yet buoyant arrangements that cause this album’s 11 tracks to float by on a summer breeze. Careful, though. Riding on this jetstream is a happy little swarm of sweetly chirping locusts who will gnaw down your bumper crop of other worthwhile albums to pathetic stubs, until the delightfully addictive sounds of Kinetic are all your brain can hear.

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Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.


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