The dynamic between siblings is always interesting to observe, and when those two siblings are singing sisters transported thousands of miles from home to perform unadorned in front of hundreds of people, the sparks and exchanges take on a theatrical quality that becomes fascinating to watch. Or rather it does in the case of The Secret Sisters.
Alabama duo Laura and Lydia Rogers have arguably two of the best voices in contemporary American country music. Their harmonies are easy and flawless. They seem to choose the perfect notes every time. Yet they sing mostly covers – although new material will be more plentiful on the second album – to a bare minimum of guitar accompaniment from Lydia. It shouldn’t really feel particularly special, and yet somehow it does.
Part of this magic is the Secret Sisters’ schtick. Laura plays the dominant personality to Lydia’s shy and quietly brilliant wallflower. Laura does the jokes and the storytelling, while every so often Lydia pops up with a vocal performance to crush hollow muscular organs.
And yet they are still a work in progress. They litter the evening with admittedly superb covers – George Jones’ Why Baby Why, Skeeter Davis’ Am I That Easy To Forget?, All I Could Do Was Cry by the recently departed Etta James – but it’s their own songs that really stand out. Somewhat disappointingly, Laura descends into a lengthy spiel about how much they both dislike the superlative Tennessee Me, one of only two original songs from their eponymous debut album, and one of the best traditional-sounding contemporary country songs of recent times. Still, there’s no accounting for taste.
Most exciting was a taste of what’s to come on album number two: Tomorrow Will Be Kinder recalls the devastation caused by a storm that ripped through the Southern States; King Cotton is a tender homage to their home state. The raw and electric River Jordan a nod to their religious roots.
The evening ends with a surprise appearance from the always lovely Brandi Carlile for a rousing a capella version of Amazing Grace. It’s all over in what seems like an instant, but really, for these two, it’s only just begun.
Video from the Night
Etta James Tribute – All I Could Do Was Cry
The Secret Sisters featuring Brandi Carlile – Amazing Grace (song starts about 3.10 in to the clip)