FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: SISTERS STILL DOING IT
It is great when a new album arrives and you are entirely spoilt for choice as to which song to feature within the constraints of our usual Fifty3 Fridays format. Those who have stuck around since I wrote for Consequence and BestNewBands before migrating to this wholly owned space will know that I have long championed the talents of the Jurkiewicz sisters from Indianapolis, Lily & Madeleine. I have enjoyed their musical journey since a captivating live show at London’s Bush Hall in 2014; the sisters then with a combined age of just 36 and already comparative veterans of an EP and two full length albums.
Well, Lily & Madeleine have just released a fifth album, Nite Swim, and it’s a stunner, marking the duo’s progress over a decade from prodigious beginnings to consummate artistry. In common with the pair’s past catalogue, the record is infused with a relaxed poise and has a distinctive sisterly stamp that marks it their own. The albums that came before it - a self-titled debut in 2013 and 2014’s Fumes, followed by Keep It Together (2016) and Canterbury Girls (2019) - were all measured, accomplished works. Nite Swim takes Lily & Mad’s emotional maturity further and introduces some deft instrumental surprises into their core sound. Credit should be extended to the duo’s longstanding playing partner, Shannon Hayden, who shares writing credits while producing, arranging, mixing and contributing instrumentally to great effect.
Photos of Lily & Madeleine by Anna Powell Denton
The songs on Nite Swim track across a romantic landscape countering fear of rejection with acceptance of personal feelings while looking back on what is important in lives lived so far. There is a questioning tone that reflects the complexities we humans inflict on our inner selves. Returning to that opening dilemma about which song to feature, how about two instead? Or wind back and make that three? The album opens with the metaphorical and imaginative "Windowless Bedroom", the first single taken from it which I have already previewed in July here but hey, here's a refresher of it.
The beer is just a stranger’s on the sidewalk in “Rolling Rock” but it is a simple reflection of the post break-up void, the loneliness and loss. Rolling piano and keenly interlaced harmonies keep emotions in check until unexpected bursts of electric guitar emit their cathartic charge.
Throughout the album, the duo’s harmonies are wholly natural and instinctive while when each takes the lead vocal, there is a subtle divergence in tones; Madeleine’s is soft and clear while Lily’s is a little earthier, pitched slightly lower. Lily takes the lead on the beautifully orchestrated “No Part of Me” which combines a synth underpin with organic violin and cello demonstrating the variety the sisters have employed on the record. The falling out of love song places independence and self-worth above a relationship where love may have never even been present. The feeling of relief at it being finally over is gently exercised over an extended strings-driven coda for a perfect finale. Hopefully this will be enough to make you want to take in the full Nite Swim.
From Indiana’s finest now to Arizona, although that is the title of the next song rather than a place of birth. Bristol-based South Wales native Aderyn has been on my radar since her single “Silver Screen” came out two and a half years ago. With a style self-described as a grunge pop, she has consistently surprised with successive twists on that broad genre that keep her music fresh and frequently exuberant. Her quirky melodies are always a delight while her lyrics ring true as open and honest confessionals.
It is not long since Aderyn served up her fun, infectious single “Chip Shop Boy”, previewing her debut EP Sea Glass which came out on 2 October. The four-track EP also includes the bristly, satirical “I Wish I Had A Dog” and the upbeat musings of “Distraction”. It is completed by “Arizona”, which shows the furthest departure from her core style to date. Simply recorded in one take, it has a beautifully sparse and spacious feel, accentuated by the subtle dose of slide guitar. “Arizona” is a song about needing someone. Intimate and haunting in tone, it could be Aderyn’s best work to date and a clear developmental signpost to a growing and eclectic repertoire. You can buy the Sea Glass EP on Bandcamp now.
We complete this weeks’ selection with two new songs which arrived via the Inbox in the last couple of weeks. Apologies to those still waiting for a reply – I’m working on it! Though not that quickly. First up is Sheffield’s Sam Scherdel who blends Springsteen-esque influences with heart on sleeve lyrics not a million miles from the style of his namesake Sam Fender. Sheffield Sam has a fine rock voice with plenty of attack and an attractive rasp to it and his bittersweet anthem, “R.E.T.R.O”, is a poignant plea to cherish what you have while you have it, “as the moment it’s gone is the moment it hurts.” The accompanying video is a tender endorsement of just that.
Photo of Charlotte Carpenter by Fraser West
I encountered East Midlands-based artiste Charlotte Carpenter in June via her splendid single entitled “Spinning Plates” which served as a preview to her debut album. I am pleased to report that the full album, A Modern Rage, is out now and I commend it highly as artful, eclectic and challenging. Her new single from it, “You’re My Reason Why” is described by Charlotte as her favourite song on the album and one she always wanted to write. Inspired, if that is quite the right word, by the pandemic, the song embraces the notion of facing the end of the world with the one you love in such an uplifting manner it is like applying a warm blanket to dystopia. Tenderly voiced and sensitively worded, it comes with another cinematic triumph of a video.