First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

Forget the navel-gazing UK folkie boys currently making a name for themselves: these girls from far off Sweden are much more interesting. Sisters Johanna and Klara Sderberg (aka First Aid Kit) have a certain magical quality that makes their brand of earthy C&W-tinged folk so appealing. Perhaps it's just that they are not trying so hard to be earnest and tortured and, free of pretence, their ethereal tunes prove quite bewitching.

The duo's real gift is their crystal clear harmonies. Opening with the stunning title track (and first single) is risky, and may leave you wondering if the rest can live up to its promise but, thankfully, it does. 'Emmylou' is a lovely tribute to the ladies of country music: "I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June / If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too" while 'Blue's' spritely melody masks rather bleak lyrics of lost love and hopes. The sweeping, haunting melodies of 'To A Poet' and 'I Found A Way' are again bolstered by the duo's magical harmonies, offering a sonic depth that others struggle to find.

'Wolf' leaves the country-western and Americana feel of the rest of the album to return to their Nordic roots. With its strong, insistent percussion and confident vocals, the song is reminiscent of countryman Lykke Li, chilling yet beautiful. Final track, the deceptively jaunty 'King of the World' (featuring The Felice Brothers) with its South of the Border horns rounds up the album nicely: "I'm nobody's baby / I'm everybody's girl / I'm the queen of nothing / I'm the king of the world."

With The Lion's Roar First Aid Kit may well endear themselves to the wider world. This is a balm for the frostbitten soul.

Overall

7

out of 10

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