there seems to be a scene, of sorts, or a trend, or maybe it’s just me making connections that aren’t really there. But either way, I seem to keep coming across new, or recent, music which has a kind of old-timey, 40s radio quality to it, a sort of country-cum-Andrews Sisters-cum-Garrison Keillor vibe. Which is a very poor approximation of what I’m trying to describe. So, instead, three examples that I’m really fond of.
The Living Sisters are a supergroup of sorts (The Bird & The Bees, Lavender Diamond etc) and their debut album is a gorgeous thing – sweet, charming, very “vintage”, but kinda sexy too. The album struck me as a little anodyne at first but then really got under my skin.
She & Him are probably the best known examples of this scene I created about 10 minutes ago in my confused, tiny, hangover-stricken mind. I’ll skate over my inappropriate feelings about Ms Deschanel and instead put in a claim for her having a really wonderful voice – rich and warm and like Karen Carpenter if The Carpenters weren’t 99% dross. Musical mentor M Ward seems to be the kinda of “go to guy” for this kind of thing, and he’s very good at it. The second She & Him album is a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but the debut is wonderful
Another duo with a kind of western swing, jazz-inflected harmony thing going on. Don’t know much about them but it’s cute stuff.
Maybe this putative scene has its roots in the kind of stuff The Be Good Tanyas / Jolie Holland and their ilk were making a few years back but with the folky elements dropped for something more country. It certainly doesn’t seem to have any parallel in the UK (The Pipettes were in the same ballpark, I guess, but never really lived up to the hype and were more girl group; Piney Gir is a purer country take on a similar feel, but she’s an expat yank anyway).
Strangely, perhaps The Mamas & The Papas got there first…