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The Secret Sisters

Put Your Needle Down – 2014 (Republic)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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There are some major changes and some not so big major changes on the second disc from Laura and Lydia Rogers, aka The Secret Sisters. One of the key changes is apparent at the get go with "Rattle My Bones," a song written in part by Brandi Carlile. The sound is dense, atmospheric with rat-a-tat drumming from Darren Weiss. That was in sharp contrast to the duo's self-titled debut of 3 years ago. The leadoff song and single, "Tennessee Me," made it clear that the Rogers' were the second coming of The Everly Brothers.

The sonics this time doubtlessly are the brainchild of producer T Bone Burnett. Last time out, he executive produced with Dave Cobb. Burnett presumably helped forge different sounds this time to make the soph effort more their own calling card. A song like "Iuka,"' about the Mississippi town that was known as the marriage capital of the south for allowing people to elope without needing parental consent, has a haunting quality. No surprise given the subject matter.

The Rogers sisters helped write "Dirty Lie" with Bob Dylan, who gave the unfinished song to Burnett. Dylan ought to be smiling. The intensity continues with "The Pocket Knife," another edgy song penned by British singer P.J. Harvey.

The mood lightens a bit musically as the disc goes along with such songs as "Good Luck, Good Night, Goodbye" and the closing "River Jordan," a religious number. The Everlys still cast their spell onto the disc with The Secret Sisters lovely harmonizing on "Lonely Island' by Boudleaux Bryant, a 1960 recording never released as a single by The Everlys and "Black and Blue," another song penned with Carlile.

The new disc shows a lot of growth since the Rogers sisters helped write 9 of the 12 songs, including 3 on their own. The debut featured but two songs they penned. "Put Your Needle Down" shows the sisters more than capable of writing really strong tunes with lyrical depth and musical spunkiness instead of a bunch of really good covers that displayed their talent. There's no doubt that the debut made the Rogers worthy of the attention. Here, they take it one step further.

So, what's the not big change this time around? The quality. The Rogers, with help from Burnett, crafted a meaty, engaging disc that expands their musical palette.