I’ve always loved exceptional vocal harmonies, particularly tandems bound by blood. Sisters J are the latest iteration of that particular configuration and are making a name for themselves as two of the most naturally talented vocalists emerging in recent years. You don’t need Pro Tools or other studio trickery to make this duo sound enticing. Lily and Elisabeth Jackson are born singers who’ve worked at refining their gifts from an early age and the results bear out the labor they’ve invested in perfecting their craft. Their single “Breathe In” is another long leap forward into a bright future for the Nashville based twosome and is certain to earn praise from every quarter.
Their voices carry the song. There are other strengths that I’ll discuss as the review develops, but the glowing heart of “Breathe In” is the vocal synergy Elisabeth and Lily effortlessly generate. It’s present from the first line onward. The sisters share vocal characteristics without ever sounding like carbon copies of one another, but the chief attribute attentive listeners will note is their mutual focus on emotive phrasing. It gives added weight to the song’s words without relegating the song’s arrangement to second tier status.
Sisters J makes great use of an arrangement that has a lot to offer. The pacing is spot on for the song’s subject and gives the cut a vivid panoramic quality few modern pop songs possess. Percussion has a considerable hand in making this so. The lead guitar playing creatively mastered by their music producer Ted “Theo” Perlman is the key. It is steady throughout the song, never missing a beat, and keeps pushing listeners toward the track’s inevitable conclusion. There are minor adornments along the way that give “Breathe In” extra dimension, particularly the Sisters J propensity for essentially stopping the song, exhaling, and then starting the track again.
Another strength is the guitar playing. It layers the verses with an added propulsive quality and the lead guitar passages give “Breathe In” an unexpected punch courtesy of their amazing music producer Ted “Theo” Perlman. A superficial appraisal of the sister’s voices suggests that guitar playing like this is a poor match for their talents, but even a cursory listen to the single illustrates otherwise. They share the same musical page without ever sounding too incongruous.
The lyrics are mature, insightful, and worded with an eye toward efficiency. There’s little to no wasted motion in their musical approach and the same aesthetic governs the words as well. It’s obvious that they are shaped to serve the arrangement and seamlessly dovetail into the song’s changes. They represent one of the finishing touches that make “Breathe In” such a worthy entry in Sister J’s growing discography.
Lily and Elisabeth Jackson have made enormous strides in the short time they’ve worked within the mainstream pop world and the excellence they’ve achieved will only continue in the years to come. They’re with us for good and we couldn’t be more fortunate. I’m happy to have discovered these sisters so early in their journey. It will be a pleasure to hear and see them grow as artists and individuals and look forward to the many fine songs, shows, and releases to come.
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