Stay Gold – First Aid Kit

Indie Folk/Americana

I am really excited to be writing about First Aid Kit this week. I feel like they are a welcome addition to the modern music scene. For a band that rose to fame by covering a song from last week’s band Fleet Foxes on YouTube, First Aid Kit has successfully set themselves apart from the rest of the many folk musicians in today’s market. Yes, they are unique in that they are a female duo, sisters, and they are a Swedish band playing Americana but what really sets them apart is the overall quality of their music.

First Aid Kit’s music is reflective of true American folk music while still managing to sound modern and relevant. The songs on their 2014 album Stay Gold range from the big and bright Stay Gold to the peaceful, relaxing, and reflective Cedar Lane. For being only their third full-length release Stay Gold is a strong effort that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time.

To be honest, First Aid Kit’s music has a lot going for it. The first and most noticeable strength in their music is the vocal harmony between the two sisters. They are great singers individually but it’s not until they begin to harmonize with each other that you realize that their voices complement each other perfectly. Their individual vocal styles are very similar to one another but the subtle differences add something unique to the music.

The music itself is beautifully composed. First Aid Kit’s sound is very folk-country. You will find much of what you expect here including acoustic guitar and pedal steel. Regardless of nationality, they do Americana music justice. In reference to the band as a whole, the Swedish sisters have managed to put together quite the supporting cast. Because the music is influenced by both folk and country it should do well to appeal to both audiences.

The album’s songwriting is robust. Many of FAK’s songs also borrow lyrical themes from both folk and country music. You have your country style love (or heartbreak) songs like A Long Time Ago as well as your storytelling songs in the folk style such as Waitress Song (a personal favorite). The sisters never seem to forget what makes them so unique in this male dominated genre and Stay Gold is often spoken from the female perspective. I am pleased to see the emergence of female personalities in folk music such as FAK and Hurray for the Riff Raff, to name a couple.

First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold is a beautiful piece of Americana and should be given a listen by any fan of this type of music. I believe that we are once again witnessing a reemergence of folk music in America (and Sweden apparently!) and it is wonderful to witness acts like FAK experience success. I look forward to seeing these two live somewhere on a hot summertime field and highly recommend their album Stay Gold to those who are interested.

See you next week.

From Scotland With Love – King Creosote

Folk

I’ll start with an album that I have been listening to a lot recently. From Scotland With Love is a remarkable addition to the collection of music by Scottish based King Creosote. From Scotland With Love was composed as a soundtrack to the documentary by Virginia Heath of the same title. The film features historic footage from the National Library of Scotland and Scottish Screen Archive backtracked by the Creosote album and absent of any actual commentary. Think of it as one long music video. I am happy to admit that both the film and the album are masterfully done.

Like its film counterpart, From Scotland With Love is both retrospective and sincere. The album opens with Something to Believe In, a heartfelt introduction to the 39 minute collection that highlights Creosote’s fascinating vocals over a short set of meaningful lyrics. From the slow and somber tone of Something to Believe In the album eventually evolves into upbeat and exciting songs such as Largs and For One Night Only that do well to vary the mood of the album.

Perhaps one of the most interesting songs on the album is Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123 featuring a children’s rhyme encapsulating lyrics by Creosote that include “Bury me in the old churchyard, Beside my only brother, My coffin shall be black, Six white angels at my back.” This song is a pleasure to listen to and is a highlight of the album.

The instrumentals on the album are just as complex and beautiful as the lyrics. From the accordion work on Something to Believe In to the acoustic guitar work on Bluebell to the rhythmic percussion of One Floor Down to the inspiring violin on A Prairie Tale there is something to excite your interest in every song.

From Scotland With Love continues to impress me every time I listen to it. It is one of those albums that sounds better and better with each listen. The only thing that makes this album more enjoyable is by listening to it while watching its corresponding documentary; I highly suggest it. This album is here to stay in my music library and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Please feel free to post your thoughts.

Until next week, farewell.