The Secret Sisters, Bush Hall, London
Friday 20 May 2011
Laughing and joking with the crowd, at ease on stage, you'd never guess that less than two years ago Laura and Lydia Rogers had never been on a plane, let alone performed in front of a live audience. The sibling duo, who hail from the perfectly Bible-Belt-sounding Muscle Shoals, Alabama, formed The Secret Sisters after elder sister Laura (who handles lead vocals) was spotted at an impromptu Nashville audition. Los Angeles beckoned and their self-titled debut album of sweet harmonies and country charm (recorded, in faux-1950s fashioned, without any digital equipment) was born.
At Bush Hall in west London, they open with "The One I Love Is Gone", a heartbreaking lament for lost love, before unleashing a girlish scream and warming up their idolatrous red neck-loving fans with a belted-out take on country classic "Why Baby Why".
Their music evokes the golden age of honky-tonk by combining self-penned tunes and country classics by the likes of George Jones and Hank Williams. And without a band – only a dark red curtain and two guitars to complement the Victorian venue's restored walls and chandeliers – they are pared-back country to its extreme.
Fresh from a tour supporting Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, and a spell in Nashville playing alongside Costello, Elton John and actor-singer Jeff Bridges, the sisters are at the end of their British tour but show few signs of fatigue (they do hit the odd bum chord). Laura is the chattier of the two, at times more a comic than a musician as she jokes with the crowd about the troubles of sharing small British hotel rooms with her sister for weeks on end.
They go on to offer little cheer but much charm with a take on Hank Williams's "Your Cheatin' Heart'", and their own track "Tennessee Me".
The girls learned to harmonise to the likes of the Everly Brothers and Doc Watson in their youth so boast authentic country credentials, but seem to be trying a little too hard to conform to a historical musical stereotype. There's obviously a market for their oh-so-innocent chatter, 1950s gingham attire and "authentic" laments, but it's the duo's raw talent that shines through. Their label may be marketing them as an anti-modernist group "sounded and true" in "grounded wisdom", but it's their siren voices that leave me spellbound. They are back in the UK for the festival circuit this summer, make sure you check them out.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Ed Miliband less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'