Commingling their honey-mustard puree of vocals, folk-pop instrumentalist/singer-songwriters Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw call themselves Peggy Sue. On their third EP, percussive conviviality courtesy of Olly Olly Olly embroiders the touching, poignant, heart-on-sleeve lyrics. Acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, kick-tambourine, and drum box are all used with delicate reserve — reminiscent of Rembrandt’s lightly dipped paintbrush — and add to the uncluttered, free-range overall charm.
Peggy Sue have a drenching, cathartic edge to their songs, revealed, for example, in the first track, “Long Gone”, which revolves around the line “I gave to you four years”. To be more precise, that “four year” reference bemoans and examines a relationship, once teetering on “safe” then soon adrift, culminating with the post-mortem expression that this represents “four out of 24” and we explore the ensuing aftermath ourselves.
Rex and Klaw have perfected the art of harmony — evident throughout the recording — carefully using it to embellish rather than distract from the EP’s unrequited love anthems. Klaw resonates a sheer, fragile delicacy in her vocal interpretation, while Rex breathes a more “move on over Buster” brassiness to the mix. Compared to Regina Spektor for their ability to flex and gyrate, and to Billie Holiday for pure evocative mood, they dip and thrash in unison, creating an illustrious, impeccable mash of unplugged emotion.
The home-grown feel of this EP inspires one to throw a red-and-white checkered blanket over a fresh patch of grass, kick off the crocs, and roast in the incendiary sun. There are infectious “aha” moments when the words enrapture one against the almost primitive — but exquisite — string accompaniment.
“Milk and Blood” commences with a savory string riff and the mournful line “blue soul tumbling down”. Smart touches like a military drum, handclaps, and tambourine taps stratify the bittersweet flow.
“Revision” pulls an about-face, using piano as its five-gun salute. “I couldn’t concentrate on voices” drones on, and underneath the bold patter, undulating waves of warm piano — first slow-moving, then capricious — separate the stanzas. Ther sultry timbre evolves as the voices coalesce, playing frisky cat and mouse with the keys.
The longest track, “The Conservationist”, features a tinny somnambulistic background against lyrics such as “your feet can no longer carry you on your way”, “don’t bother yourself with this news”, and “still faster and faster, the world seems to spin”. This existential closer connects some of the emotional elements alluded to earlier.
Peggy Sue will be working on a debut album in Brooklyn, recording with producers John Askew (Atlantic Sound Studio) and Alex Newport (Future Shock). After recently working the crowds in Los Angeles, SXSW and New York City, I’m certain they’ll further fine tune their unique sound in preparation for this endeavor.