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The Roches

Moonswept

(429; US: 13 Mar 2007; UK: Available as import)

The three Roche sisters possess lovely voices and the ability to create stunning vocal harmonies that just take one’s breath away. Much of this is due to Maggie’s unusual contralto voice, which gives the Roches a distinctive sound even when soprano Terre and midrange Suzzy chime in. The vocals are the star on Moonswept. Individually, each of them sing beautifully, but it’s when they join together that the listener’s heart starts to pound excitedly. Unfortunately, the Roches wrote most of the 14 tracks here, and they are not very good. The songs are often cloying and offer less than insightful comments on aging, human relationships and other such granola fodder. However, there are three excellent tunes written by others. “Long Before”, by Suzzy’s daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche, suggests how ephemeral and important friendships can be. The Roches also cover two Paranoid Larry songs, “No Shoes” and “Jesus Shaves”, which contain lots of clever wordplay and provide the three singers with lots of opportunities to engage in demanding stop and start tempos and sing gloriously overtop of each other’s voices.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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