The Chapin Sisters 

Lake Bottom Lp

Remember the scene in O Brother, Where Art Thou? where the lads on the run (G. Clooney and friends) encounter three beautiful lasses singing in harmony, representing mythical sirens that lured sailors to their doom? The Chapin Sisters have those same eerily close, high-lonesome harmonies born of traditional Anglo-American folk, gospel, and mountain music — the pre-bluegrass sound of Appalachia. While too many singers think "range" is someplace where cattle graze or feel the need to hit every possible note in the first thirty seconds of a song, sisters Abigail and Lily Chapin and Jessica Craven sing in a dignified, measured manner that nonetheless powerfully conveys emotion.

The setting for their songs is minimal: acoustic guitars, bass, occasional violin, and percussion. The tone of Lake Bottom Lp is consistently melancholy, pensive, and crestfallen — we're talking bridge of sighs here. But the sisters' lyrics have enough drollery ("Kill Me Now") and inspired turns-of-phrase ("I Hate The Moon"), and their harmonies so palpably heartfelt, that Lake Bottom never comes off as a downer — or worse, precious. If Dr. Moreau could combine DNA from Dolly Parton and Nick Drake, he might come up with the Chapin Sisters ... and I mean that in the best possible way. (Plain Recordings)


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