Published Aug 03, 2016In 2015, Anna & Elizabeth released an eponymous album to rave reviews, but while it felt like a debut for the duo, it was actually their second album. Now, they've re-released a remastered copy of their true debut, originally released in 2013. Like Anna & Elizabeth, Sun To Sun is another earnest and faithful celebration of Appalachian music.
Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle are singers first and foremost. The album features very simple instrumentation, generally with just one instrument per song: guitar, banjo, or fiddle that's sometimes barely there at all, so that many songs have an a cappella feel even when they're accompanied. Exceptions are "Pateroller," a typical old time fiddle and banjo tune, and "Darlin, Don't You Know It's Wrong," on solo fiddle. The material pairs the obscure with the familiar: "Mockingbird" is a version of the well known lullaby, "When I Was A Young Girl" was most famously sung by Nina Simone and "Lone Pilgrim" is as time-tested a spiritual as you'll find.
Anna & Elizabeth are most often compared to singing women of the old time and bluegrass tradition, like Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, or the Carter Family, but at moments on this album, their harmonies more closely resemble those of Simon and Garfunkel ("The Letter Song"). Their clear, unpretentious storytelling approach to singing, unadorned by vibrato or vocal acrobatics, gives these songs the necessary space to shine. There's no sense that they're trying to sound "authentic," and that's probably why they do. Haunting one minute, joyful the next, Sun To Sun is a testament to the power of musical simplicity. (Free Dirt)