The Callen Sisters master the art of moody, intense folk-pop on self-titled album

Reviewed by Carson James

The Callen Sisters/The Callen Sisters

Because I am old, a college/alternative band fronted by two sisters reminded me of the Throwing Muses. Coincidentally, the opening cut, “Anomie,” with its spiky riffs and little-girl vocals, sounds eeriely close to the Muses in their prime, when Tanya Donelly was still in the group with her step sibling Kristin Hersh. Although not as harrowing as the Muses, the Callen Sisters unintentionally hit me with a 120 Minutes flashback. And while the rest of the CD has more of a folk-rock feel, the Callen Sisters are definitely not your typical coffeehouse duo; their songs have rougher edges on the side, displaying a postmodern influence that energizes and intensifies even their most quiet moments.

Both Jessa and Beth Callen sing, but don’t ask me to identify on which tracks. All I can say is that the vocals throughout the whole album are melodic and bittersweet, tinged with both sorrow and hope. “Wildfires” and “Whirlwind Came” are reminiscent of the Sundays’ summer-afternoon mood swings, gentle and winsome folk-pop heavy on atmosphere. Albums like this have a tendency to drag (even the Sundays were guilty of that); fortunately, the Callen Sisters never meander, ensuring that each cut has a purpose and enough friendly hooks to keep our ears occupied.

Published in: on March 31, 2008 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Katie Marie’s ‘Share My Air’ is a mature, sophisticated effort


Reviewed by Brooke Curtis

Katie Marie/Share My Air

Katie Marie looks far younger than she sounds.

Her music and her singing display a maturity and sophistication that many twentysomethings do not possess. Because of her youthful age, industry gurus will probably liken her to Colbie Caillat, but to me Marie is closer in spirit to Karen Capenter. Marie’s voice has the fragile beauty and bittersweet grace of Carpenter in her prime. There is honest emotion and soul in Marie’s singing that I don’t hear in Caillat and most of her contemporaries. Musically, also, Marie is less trendy; many of the tracks here, even the ones with obvious ’70s touches, are quite timeless.

The title cut and “Borrow Your Smile” offer radiant, summer-afternoon pop. “Borrow Your Smile” sounds upbeat, but it seems to be about a one-sided relationship, the woman at the mercy of the man’s nomadic nature. I like the clever, subtle sarcasm of the title; she has to borrow his smile, his smug complacency, because all she can find is intermittent affection. “Can I borrow your joy for a day/As you walk in it,” Marie sings with the same deceptively pleasant tone that Carpenter had in disguising the somber undertow of her songs. On “Walk Away,” Marie switches to a bluesy strut that belies her age; it’s a show-stopping moment, one that elevates a very good album into a great one, probably among the year’s finest.

Published in: on March 31, 2008 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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