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First Aid Kit checks out just fine

House of Blues, Boston, February 7, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

First Aid Kit belies its name with its blend of folk, Americana and country because after just releasing the excellent "Ruins," there is no need to be concerned about the musical health of the Swedish sister duo of Klara and Johanna Soderberg. `

Sisters Soderberg are doing just fine thank you with a most pleasing set combining great vocals and harmonies, song craft, musicianship and staging.

Klara assumed most of the lead vocals with Johanna taking stanzas here and there, but more often providing complimentary harmonies. Klara was a most powerful singer with a lot of force to her delivery. And on almost every single song, the vocals were front and center as they should have been.

That may never have been more on target than when she sang the tough, harder-edged "You Are the Problem Here." Coming in the wake of the #metoo movement, this certainly was most appropriate for what is going on today.

Following the song, Klara said instead of going after the victim with "what were you wearing or what were you drinking, we need to put the shame back where it belongs," which met with much applause.

Johanna turned the serious moment into a humorous one, saying it was time for "upbeat songs," which she was joking about as they launched into "To Live a Life."

In a nod to another sister act, First Aid Kit turned in a faithful rendering of Heart's "Crazy on You." While FAK's take showcased the stellar vocals of Klara, it was also out of step with the rest of the set when it came to song structure.

There were a few overly country songs, including the excellent "Postcard" from "Ruins" and "Emmylou," which name checks Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris along with Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. The pedal steel of Melvin Duffy was omnipresent there, but also giving a definite country and Americana edge to the music throughout.

Steve Moore's trombone (he also played keyboards) was used most effectively on a number of songs, adding to the creativity of the music. Scott Simpson maintained a steady drum beat.

First Aid Kit brought back opener Van William for his song "Revolution" during its encore. FAK contributed backing vocals for the release and did so again live on a well-delivered version. During his opening half hour, William underscored why Neil Young is his main influence. Not only did he do a credible take on "Cinnamon Girl," but he maintained a Young vibe throughout.

First Aid Kit took over again after "Revolution," concluding with "Master Pretender" and its best-known song "My Silver Lining" from "Stay Gold." Klara and Johanna Soderberg continue making beautiful music and proved themselves to be the complete package. There's nothing wrong with sisters Soderberg. Far from it. First Aid Kit checked out just fine.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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