If you’re a music-lover, you know the best concerts are something like religious experiences. You leave feeling elevated, and you leave feeling that the world has more beauty and purpose than it did before.
I first heard of opener Jill Andrews through Southern rock band The Dirty Guv’nahs. She sang harmony on their song “The Country” from 2010 album Youth Is In Our Blood. I love that song.
Incidentally, the Dirty Guv’nahs were one of the first concerts I ever saw.
I followed the rabbit trail from “The Country” to learn more about that voice singing harmony. It turns out that Jill Andrews is a kickass songwriter in her own right, with work going back to 2004 and alt-country band The Everybodyfields (a band I’m now adding to my rotation).
It’s amazing what some people can achieve with just a voice and a guitar. Jill does it. The level of hushed attention she commanded is a testament to her songwriting skill. Her lyrics are careful observers of life.
I’m a fan.
Want to see what I mean? Here she is performing the song “A Little Less” from her 2011 album The Mirror, which has gotten frequent rotation on my Spotify account for the last couple of months. (I would embed this, but Google Photos isn’t cooperating tonight).
To my chagrin, I don’t have a recording of my favorite Jill Andrews song, “Blue Eyes”. She wrote this gem for her young son, but I daresay I’m going to keep this one saved for when I have my own kids to sing to.
It’s criminal that she isn’t more well-known, but I hope that her future work changes that.
Listen to the Jill Andrews’s 2016 album The War Inside.
I wasn’t sure how the Secret Sisters were going to follow Jill’s act, but they delivered. This sister band’s harmonies are tighter on stage than on record, despite younger sister Lydia’s cold and congestion.
They led off with the haunting minor-key dirge “Tennessee River Runs Low” from their recent Grammy-nominated (as they jokingly reminded us through the night) and Brandi Carlile album You Don’t Own Me Anymore.
If you thought the dirge-like first show would be a hint to the mood of the night to come, you would be wrong.
The Secret Sisters have great stage presence, with double-act comedy that reminds you of what you might find on an old country radio variety show. Older sister Laura Rogers plays a talkative and self-deprecating funny man to Lydia Rogers’ straight man.
If I had space to roll on the floor laughing, I probably would have.
Of course, they paired their humor with a selection of more beautiful and tragic songs, from a lovely cover of “O Holy Night” (their performance wins the “Christmas music” category for 2017 in my book) to their murder ballad “Mississippi.” Each song came with a story that lent it significance, and the story the Secret Sisters have to tell is one that will make you root for them all the more.
I don’t take a lot of videos at concerts. It’s not fun, and it’s not fun for people sitting around you for you to hold your phone up in the air above them. That said, I wish I could share more of tonight’s songs. Absent my own videos, here’s video someone else captured of the Secret Sister’s playing one of tonight’s covers at a previous Eddie’s Attic performance.
Chills right? And also laughter?
Listen to the Secret Sisters’ 2017 album You Don’t Own Me Anymore.
With the Secret Sisters we have an underdog young duo that still has a lot of upward potential. People falling in love with music for the first time will always be interested in reviving and refreshing older music styles. They’ll have bands like the Secret Sisters to turn to for a reminder that country, gospel, folk, and blues are still living art forms. Though they’re often pigeon-holed as retro, once you see these sisters and hear their harmonies, you’ll know that they are doing something immediate and relevant for anyone in earshot.
With Jill Andrews, we have a sharp songwriting talent poised to get a lot more mainstream recognition (now with multiple songs featured on television shows like Nashville) but also with full comfort and command of small, intimate performances. I have a feeling Andrews is a slow burner – she’s succeeding in building a passionate fan base one memorable show at a time.
And with Eddie’s Attic, we have one of acoustic music’s best venues making yet another great lineup choice. I’ll be remembering tonight’s concert.