“What if a heart gives in despair? What if the road won’t take me there? Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold,” bellow the Söderberg sisters, Johanna and Klara, who make up the duo First Aid Kit. Their new album, Stay Gold gets very personal, diving into topics like change, regret, and finding your way in life.
The sisters hail from Enskede, Sweden, but they sound like they are from the American south. They grabbed the world’s attention through YouTube after posting a cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” by The Fleet Foxes. Stay Gold is their third studio album, produced by Mike Mogis of Columbia Records. Mogis has also worked with the band Bright Eyes, who happen to be a huge inspiration to First Aid Kit. Stay Gold was released June 6th 2014 in Europe, and everywhere else the following week.
Stay Gold is a more mature album compared to their previous works. The girls’ voices howl stronger than before, the lyrics are beautifully personal, and the variety of instruments creates a sound much different than the common folk-country music. The songwriting on the album is amazing as the girls retell their experiences together, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. The last track of the album, “A Long Time Ago” is just one of many examples of how the lyrics are very relatable and honest: “I was the one / you counted on / but I was never the one for you / now I know, I lost you long ago.” With the vocals accompanied by soft piano, the song captures the mood and feelings of heartbreak accurately. “My Silver Lining” is the opening track of the album, and it fits well there. It tells the experience of trying not to worry too much and to just “keep on keepin’ on” as the sisters sing over a band of string instruments.
The sisters played alongside a thirteen-piece orchestra from Omaha’s Symphony in Nebraska, where they recorded the album. The orchestral arrangements create this much more tenacious and impressive sound. You can hear fiddles, banjos, piano, drums, clarinet, and other instruments all creating this American folk style that is very suitable for any golden, hazy day. “Now baby, tell me, what’s your story? / Do you think it’ll ever sell? / And what’ll you do if it comes down to it? / if it all goes straight to hell?” the sisters sing on track nine, “Heaven Knows” which perfectly exhibits a western country vibe, but with a more commanding, strong sound.
Stay Gold is an album with honest lyrics and a symphony of American folk sound to back it up. It’s the perfect soundtrack for long road-trips or soaking in that summer sun with a glass of whiskey. For fans of Bright Eyes, Fleet Foxes, and Lana Del Ray, definitely check out First Aid Kit and their new album.
Photo credit: Neil Krug
By Olivia Jannuzzi