Klara and Johanna Söderberg, the Swedish sisters at the heart of First Aid Kit, are back with a new album, Stay Gold. The harmony between their voices makes one feel like he or she is driving through the swaying mid-western fields of America: but the irony is that the two sisters hail from one of the biggest cities in Scandinavia. With sunny, windows-open folk melodies, the new album is just in time for summer. It seems like the duo has found their sound—Stay Gold is a step up in maturity and complexity compared to their previous albums.
The entire album is filled with the same nostalgia found in Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Songs like “Shattered and Hollow” and “Cedar Lane” reflect on loss and the inevitable way that things change. The sisters are looking back on aspects of their youth that have disappeared with the years—lovers, friends, places. As dark as the album may be, the upbeat catchiness of the songs and many of the lyrics offer glimmers of hope—a “silver lining” that is introduced in the first song of the album. Maybe the album is a celebration, in some way, of growing up and accepting the things that cannot stay.
First Aid Kit worked with Mike Mogis (a member of Bright Eyes) once again in the making of the album, which is especially evident in the second half. The variety of instrumentals creates a full portrait of sound that echoes with emotion. Many people would agree that folk music is best when it’s sad and reminiscent, but the truth is that it’s most successful when the artist can salvage beauty from those things—First Aid Kit does this subtly throughout the album. The last song, “A Long Time Ago,” is one of the most mournful songs featured on Stay Gold, with the two sisters crooning over a piano, but the most important layer is revealed in the closing lyrics: “I hold no grudges/ I come bearing forgiveness.” And maybe that’s the point of nostalgia and the tricky beast of memory—recognizing what is over and gone, but having the strength to leave the past in its place and continue forward.
Edited by Valerie Reich
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