I listen to a lot of albums. It’s an occupational hazard and maybe you listen to a lot of albums too. It’s something of a compulsion in a way too as you, like, me are likely to be listening out for something, if not different, then something real that you can synchronise with the ever slowing beat of your heart. That something won’t ever be EDM or “urban” as both are the products of a very bored Satan but, with the mists of the morning clearing, it might just be Sister John.
Sister John’s self-titled album does seem, on first acquaintance, to be something of an under achiever. Those festival friendly folk and country rock influences are perfectly obvious – never more so than with “I’m The One” - and the low key, and often downright laconic, voice of Amanda McKeown often seems less of a highlight and more of a purposely stylised melancholia. Yet, give these songs some of your time, and your viewpoint, like mine, will begin to change. Our perceptions are, after all, guided by what is around us in the here and now and maximum in your face wham bam is what we are conditioned to want. On this album, however, Sister John - Amanda McKeown, Jonathan Lilley, Sophie Pragnell, and Heather Phillips – instead take subtlety and sentiment and combine them into something that can only be described as affecting. “Love Me or Not”, for example, is nothing if not basic yet it resonates even with a heart as cold as mine. Likewise, “Silver Whistle” is fragility in a song but from the stripped out start to the surefooted transfer into a guitar solo, it captivates your attention.
For once, we have a band that isn’t merely a sum of their musical influences and, while immediate ear appeal might be lacking, Sister John’s self-titled album ultimately convinces where so many of their contemporaries cannot. I am glad that I took the time to properly listen to this album. You will be too.
Best song? The delicate and poetic “Lost And Won”.
The verdict? An album of organic charm that grows on you.