They’ll be your Emmylou
June 10, 2015 2:57 AM   Subscribe

In 2011 they made Patti Smith cry with their rendition of “Dancing Barefoot”, in 2012 they got a standing ovation from Paul Simon for their version of “America”. Yesterday sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, aka First Aid Kit (previously), was back at the Polar Music Prize ceremony, performing "Red Dirt Girl" by this year’s laureate Emmylou Harris.

They also got to perform their own song “Emmylou” at the banquet afterwards, to a visibly moved Harris.
posted by Petersondub (18 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
The kids are alright.
posted by jferg at 4:15 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Wow, beautiful. I'd imagine that it some serious courage to get up in front of Ms. Harris herself and play that.
posted by octothorpe at 4:47 AM on June 10, 2015

It's one of my favorite songs, and I can't imagine how intimidating it would feel to perform it in front of Harris. (For me, though, their voices are too young for the song, which is telling the story of a life, but that's just a personal reaction. Harris clearly liked it, which is what matters.)
posted by Dip Flash at 4:52 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

These women are seasoned performers at this point, and I'm pretty sure they are mingling backstage and at cocktail parties with their older, richer and more famous heroes.
They have acquired the sheen of overproduction that all young beautiful acts eventually run in to. For me there was a lot of distance between the performance of these lyrics, both because of the sheen and, hey, what Dip Flash said!
...still lovely of course - I just wish someone would get rid of the string section.
posted by bird internet at 5:16 AM on June 10, 2015

Their cover of the Fleet Foxes' Tiger Mountain Peasant Song is tremendous. It's from 2008, they look about 14, it's recorded in the woods, and their singing straddles the line neatly between "harmonizing like angels" and "hollering hella loud in the woods." It's what sold me on them.
posted by Myca at 6:38 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

Aw, Emmylou was on our short list for the first dance at our wedding. Love the song, love Emmylou Harris, loved the video. thanks!
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:05 AM on June 10, 2015

I enjoy their covers of other people's music. The lyrics to their own songs are a bit hit-and-miss for me though. Often the words seem to have been written as prose and then shoe-horned into the melody; sentences end up compressed or padded with unnecessary extra words to fit, which is something that makes listening to many of their songs a bit grating to my ear.

This should be taken as a minor quibble though. I like them a lot and look forward to seeing their music mature.
posted by pipeski at 7:16 AM on June 10, 2015

Wow! I've never heard of these ladies. I'm going to look for more. Thank you!
posted by harrietthespy at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2015

I think their voices are beautiful, but between the high number of cover songs they perform, the content of their songs (a lot of stuff about/that directly evokes their heroes and inspirations), and the meh quality of their originals, I kind of feel like they're professional fangirls who got a lucky break. If someone dropped them on a desert island without their witchy 1970s goth fashions and enviable record collection, who would they be?

I know I'm biased due to my abject hatred of the Saddle Creek scene -- I'd probably be more charitable if Robin Pecknold had taken them under his wing -- but for all the talent they have, their signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:51 AM on June 10, 2015

I love, love, love this music. Their clear, clean voices pour like celestial ether across the aggravations of any day and soothe just like the name, first aid kit, for the psyche. It helps of course that my daughter gave me this music. They have such an ethereal, eternal sweetness and clarity, like they are singing in your kitchen.

I am sorry for the gush, not really.
posted by Oyéah at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

From the stark nearly unsupported instrumentation of the first clip to the deeply orchestrated Harris cover... I don't know if they're making their own arrangement choices or what, but utterly brilliant performances. An army of cellos should always be employed in the service of good.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Their version of "America"—one of my fave S&G tunes—did not do it for me, though I'd hoped for a great cover. Part of it might be that, in my humble, that is one of the most movingly sung of S&G's tunes, and neither of these singers hit that mark (though competing with Artie Garfunkel's angelic choirboy harmonies would be beyond most singers).

I'll give the others a try, but I got "pleasant and competent" from this performance rather than "transcendent."
posted by the sobsister at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'll be their Gram. . . .
posted by Danf at 11:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just discovered them last week (I don't get out much) and I was absolutely spellbound by their rendition of "America" on one of the last Letterman shows. It's magic. I'm serious.
posted by tuesdayschild at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

That they can cover poetic songs that merely competent singers could never touch due to the poetic effect being so extremely hard to inhabit, is a huge achievement, and they do it well.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow. My local library will have Stay Gold and The Lion's Roar waiting for me in a few days, and that Patti Smith cover was all it took. Really looking forward to hearing those records in a single sitting, drinking in those voices. Thanks very much for what I'm certain will be a great referral...
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 8:24 PM on June 10, 2015

I love them. The Lion's Roar is one of my favorite songs. I've got tickets to see them in August and I'm hella excited.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:37 PM on June 10, 2015

I had shivers from that Red Dirt Girl cover. I had been a small fan after I heard Silver Lining on the radio a bit back but now I'm regretting not looking into their work more.

Here's some more of them live:
posted by flatluigi at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2015

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