Peasall Sisters 

First Offering

The Peasall Sisters (Sarah, fifteen; Hannah, twelve; and Leah, nine) were heard, but not seen, as the singing voices of George Clooney's daughters in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Their fame expanded with the platinum success of the film's soundtrack and the subsequent "Down from the Mountain" tour.

Their solo debut combines a pair of Carter Family standards with ten songs of faith, including gospel, hymns, and contemporary Christian tunes. The sisters' voices shine especially bright on the traditional tunes, backed in acoustic arrangements by some of Nashville's finest studio players. Even when backing themselves on the Carter Family tunes, the sisters' rudimentary guitar (Sarah) and mandolin (Hannah) provide a rootsy, if sometimes plodding, beauty. Such young voices might be at odds with the heartbroken lyric of "Carter's Blues," but their traded verses and yodels are moving and effective. Ralph Stanley's "I'm Ready to Go" and an a cappella take of Joseph Gilmore's Civil War-era, Bible-inspired "He Leadeth Me" show off the sisters' years of woodshedding in church.

The contemporary songs don't fare quite as well. Crossing modern-day Christian vocabulary with children's voices results in precious tunes like Chaz Bosarge's "Jump" and "I'm That Sparrow." Still, even amid the treacle, the girls' voices shine, both in harmony and in solos, and Lee Domann's fiddle-based hymn, "Jesus Laughing," fits nicely with the album's traditional selections.

While the Peasall Sisters don't exhibit the outsider naiveté of other child "folk" singers like the Langley Schools Music Project, neither are they the Nashville child product that made a brief run in LeAnn Rimes' wake. There's an innocence in the Peasalls' music, born from both the freshness of their harmonies and the faith in their chosen lyrics, leavened with just enough professionalism to elevate their work from novelty to novel.

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