I first came across Philadelphia trio Sisters3 this past Valentine’s Day when they performed a show rife with local talent at Northern Liberties’ Fire Bar and Grille, most commonly referred to as The Fire. I was there that night to see songstress Birdie Busch perform but was glad to have arrived early once I’d heard the lovely sounds of Sisters3.
I hadn’t again encountered the group until I ran into acoustic guitarist and lead vocalist Anna Christie at Philadelphia Popped! Festival while interviewing Hoots & Hellmouth, another local act, and again on day 2 of this year’s Virgin Mobile Festival. We chatted a while and discussed the girls’ release of their debut full-length Star Spangled.
Star Spangled features 13 minimalist tracks focusing on Anna Christie’s songbird vocals that are both strong and beautiful. The three part harmonies created along with Beatrice and Cassandra are rich and phenomenal. From start to finish, Star Spangled is beautiful and cohesive through its love and nature motifs. The album begins with a brief but sweeping piano melody later joined by a soft violin part before tambourine kicks in atop low keys on “Heart Disease,” a tune of love and longing.
“Heart Disease” jump starts the records showcasing the sisters’ beautifully blended harmonies over the music’s retro girl pop vibe and sweet xylophone undertones. “Patsy Cline” follows in the same retro girl pop vein with a tinge of country while showcasing the warm quality of Anna Christie’s vocals in contrast the more nasal quality of Beatrice’s and Cassandra’s vocals.
My favorite track on the record is “Little Lainy Lou,” a soulful and jazzy number about a young girl who loved to dance. The chorus is completely fluid with low harmonies and has a sultry air about it thanks to guest snaps and ch ch chas by Dave MacIntosh. “Little Lainy Lou” is absolutely catchy and the kind of radio song I would expect to hear on WXPN.
The title track follows with a folkier sound and immediate hook as Anna Christie sings about her American dream versus the daily grind that gets her down. She croons with the best of them through the drawn out verses before the album takes a more lighthearted turn with “Giggling Gremlins,” complete with slide whistle and upbeat, melodic keys.
The girls’ vulnerability shines through in the songwriting on “Subway Song” as Anna Christie sings, “Prince Charming missed his cue a thousand times / I don’t even think he memorized his lines.” The devastating and heavy tone of “Subway Song” is lifted as “All The Working People” blasts through with a jaunty and infectious beat that has definite radio potential.
The most experimental track on the record is “The Soldier Song” with its warped keys and ending drum beats. The amps on this track seem to go to 11 as Anna Christie sings, “I will sing for you / I’ll be your musical! / Will you wind me up? / Wind me up (x3)” with passion, intensity and increasing volume as the song draws on. Another personal favorite is “Morning Glory” due to its referencing Roman mythology (“Mercury is standing still / the winged messenger took a sleeping pill”) and it’s hook-laden chorus.
The record ends with a soft and gorgeous instrumental track that betrays classic training and would fit perfectly in any love scene in a black and white film. It’s lovely and low piano melody will relax you after a stressful day or lull you to sleep if you sit back and close your eyes, sinking into the sounds. If you’re the patient, or forgetful, type and allow the record to play on another minute, you’ll be rewarded with a brief hidden track.
Sisters3’s Star Spangled is a beautiful album start to finish and it more than a fine offering as a debut album. Anna Christie, Beatrice and Cassandra have created a true gem. You can catch the trio live at their CD Release party at Johnny Brenda’s on September 12th with fellow Philadelphians The Extraordinaires and Hezekiah Jones.
02. Heart Disease
03. Patsy Cline (download)
04. Little Lainy Lou
05. Star Spangled (download)
06. Giggling Gremlins (download)
07. Subway Song
08. All The Working People
09. Bermuda Triangle
10. Counting Footsteps
11. The Soldier Song
12. Morning Glory
14. hidden track
Filed under: album reviews | Tagged: beatrice, birdie busch, cassandra, hezekiah jones, hoots & hellmouth, johnny brenda's, philadelphia, sisters3, the extraordinaires, vibewrangler records, virgin mobile festival |