Last Saturday night, under the soft glow of hazy purple lights in a basement deep below the main stage of Old National Centre, Indianapolis-based sisters Lily & Madeleine Jurkiewicz rocked my world.
Drawing from a set list that included both established favorites like “Back to the River” and “In the Middle” and every track from their new album “Keep It Together,” the American folk-pop duo performed in front of a hometown crowd of about 200 friends, former teachers, and longtime fans, a packed throng which filled the small space.
Lily, 19, and Madeleine, 21, had just released “Keep It Together” 24 hours prior on Friday, Feb. 26. However, for aficionados like me who’d pre-ordered the new release, the album actually dropped on Wednesday, giving me a chance to listen to all the new songs before Saturday night’s concert.
The most distinctive feature of “Keep It Together” is that the new songs have slightly more of an electronic influence than fans are used to. Longtime supporters need not worry though, as the album still contains plenty of the sisters’ distinctive vocal harmonies.
My favorite of the duo’s new tracks is “Nothing,” an ethereal ballad which highlights the effortless harmony of the sister’s voices as it crescendos from birdsong to pulsing synchronization.
While “Keep It Together” is the sisters’ third studio album, it’s their first with New West Records (their previous two albums were released with independent label Asthmatic Kitty). The album is also their first time partnering with Bloomington-based drummer Kate Siefker, a talented percussionist with whom they shared the stage on Saturday night.
Also appearing with the sisters was Shannon Hayden, a multi-instrumentalist featured on everything from guitar to mandolin. All four women will soon be hitting the road together, performing at venues from Minneapolis’ Icehouse to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.
Lily & Madeleine’s upcoming tour, if Saturday’s performance was any indication, will be phenomenal—that is, once they finally make it on stage.
Although Saturday night’s concert was slated to begin at 8:30 p.m., Lily & Madeleine didn’t come on stage until a few minutes after 10. While their performance was well worth the wait, the same cannot be said for Hayden’s 45-minute-long opening act.
The main issue with Hayden’s performance was that, though her composure remained unrelentingly stoic throughout, her music was notably lacking in memorability. While her lilting, ethereal melodies, created by tracking (Hayden recorded herself playing a few lines and then mixed them together with live performance), were intriguing for the first few minutes, they quickly grew overlong and repetitive.
But relief was soon to come—from the moment the first note left Lily’s lips, she and Madeleine’s sonorous harmonies literally took a weight off my feet (I’d been standing for more than two hours by that point). The sisters sound almost exactly the same live as they do on their albums, which anyone who’s listened to their work knows is a phenomenal achievement.
Their encore rendition of “Sea of Love,” unaccompanied by either Hayden or Kate’s instrumentation, showcased the raw “blood harmony” of their yin & yang voices. In fact, their performance of this song alone might’ve been worth the price of admission.
When the final note sounded, unlike during the opening act, I wasn’t ready for the night to end.
And if tonight’s crowd was any indication, in a few years, Lily & Madeleine will be playing the main stage of the Murat.
Count on it.
*You can buy a copy of Lily & Madeleine’s new album “Keep It Together” here for $10.