Lily & Madeleine - Lily & Madeleine
I can be quite melodramatic. I like to think that I'm just acutely in touch with my emotions, but when you joyously well up over a free cinnamon bun with your morning coffee or heart-wrenchingly cry your tear ducts dry whenever a remotely slow song soundtracks a movie - whatever the movie - 'melodramatic' is really the only way to describe it.
So it didn't come as much of a surprise that, three bars into Lily & Madeleine's self-titled debut, I groaned, 'Oh god, this is going to make me weep, isn't it'. It opens with 'Sounds Like Somewhere' - a tender, harmonised piano ballad that promises "someday I'll find the right words" which, more than anything else, offered me the encouragement that I too would be able to leave the melodrama on the backburner and find the right words to write this review.
I should point out that it isn't a miserable record all about the sad stuff. It's delicate, beautiful, and poetic, yes, but is also melodically striking. It sounds like what autumn feels, like the ground smells after the rain, like the sky looks at sunset. It's summer days cooled by gentle breezes. It's...you get the point.
The sisters confront the excitement of adventure and the anticipation of the future with an emotional candidness and melodic sparseness. 'Devil We Know' merges a boundless, twirling acoustic guitar with grounded piano chords, and 'Disappearing Heart' slows right down to a glockenspiel-sounding piano setting. You know, one of the settings you used to mess around with on the keyboards in music lessons, finding hilarity in the animal/tractor/spaceship jingles before insisting to compose a song purely of these sound-effects over a hip-hop beat to the horror of your teacher because it sounded like this. Don't worry, though, because 'Disappearing Heart', sounds nothing like one of these songs, the setting instead lending a poignant echo to a sorrowful lyrical narrative to a lover.
'Spirited Away' whimsically asks, "who wants you / who haunts you / we are surrounded by such history and shame / and like the ancients we are spirited away," whereas 'And Tonight' timidly sways along with a compassionate violin. 'I've Got Freedom' is as upbeat as you'd expect, as guitars and vocal harmonies skip along beneath tambourine shakes and hand claps as sunflowers start to grow outside your window despite it being October. (That last part I can't guarantee.) 'Goodbye to Anyone' has a deep-south feel, beautifully merged with an acoustic-guitar-around-a-coastal-campfire melody, whilst the album closer's 'You Got Out' rocks itself to the end with a plaintive eight-minute confession.
Something these two sisters from Indianapolis have managed to do is refresh the increasingly clichéd 'harmonising over an acoustic guitar' folk-esque thing that exploded over the past few years to such an extent that all the records that fell into this genre needed a shop of their own. Or near enough. There is, however, something about vocals that melt into each other so effortlessly they sound like one; about pristine instrumentals and elegant song-writing. Whether they sing with just the basics or add the kick of a band, Lily & Madeleine have created an effortlessly remarkable debut that plucks the heartstrings with just enough force to awaken a warm feeling throughout the rest of your heart.
Lily & Madeleine had this to say about the album...
This album is our first full length and it's our biggest project so far. We recorded it in about 2 weeks last summer in a really neat church-turned-studio in Bloomington, IN. We were lucky to get to work with the same amazingly talented musicians that played on our EP: Kenny Childers, Wade Parish, Matt Tobey, Heidi Gluck, and Shannon Hayden.
The response we got from the EP was so surprising and encouraging, it made us want to continue to create and try a full length. We've received some amazing opportunities since releasing our EP; we just finished our first European tour!
Our lyrics reflect our excitement as our career has grown. Songs like 'I've Got Freedom' and 'Nothing But Time' are groovier and feature more instrumentation. We're very proud of the album because it shows how we have grown since we first began this adventure, and we hope others have as much fun listening to it as we did making it!
Selected media from the album...