The Hello Strangers

Another review that got lost when submitted to another publication. The album’s so good I reckoned it deserves an outing.

The Hello Strangers are two sisters, Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith and their self-titled debut album is the result of them winning an Airplay Direct competition allowing them to record the album with producer Steve Ivey in Tennessee. With roots in Austin and Pennsylvania, the pair have been performing since 2006 and they’ve certainly brought this experience to bear on the album. Their harmonies are without fault, another example of how singing siblings can seem almost telepathic while their songs, whether contemporary in style or more rooted in classic country, are all above par.

Runaway is a fine opener that recalls the Roches (although without their quirkiness) as the pair’s strong vocals cut through atmospheric guitar rumblings while next up is the rambunctious country stomp of What It Takes To Break A Heart which swings with a sassiness that is very alluring with a hint of danger in the lyrics. While the album sashays between different styles such as the honky tonk of Ruined, the dark murder ballad, Conococheague and the Carter Family country righteousness of The World Knows Far Better the sisters keep a firm hand on the rudder steering the album into four star status with Oh He’ll Drown standing out with its twanging guitar and widescreen Western storyboard. There are two cover songs on the album. A version of Que Sera Sera, recorded in tribute to their Grandfather who sang with Doris Day obviously appealed to the sisters but it does stick out like a sore thumb here. However Jim Lauderdale and John Leventhal’s What You Don’t Know is given an excellent reading, brooding and atmospheric it recalls Roseanne Cash’s recent album, The River And The Thread, and Lauderdale turns up to add his voice to the sisters’ very fine delivery. Highly recommended.

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