Album Review of The Chapin Sisters: Today’s Not Yesterday
When you can’t decide if music is country or folk, it often fits the textbook definition of Americana. That’s the broadest, most general way to describe The Chapin Sisters. Digging deeper, the country is old-fashioned, harmonized country, while the folk is gentle, breezy, and tuneful. Most songs blend the two styles, rarely leaning too far one way or the other. The resulting sound is lush, sometimes wistful; it’s the sort of music you’d expect to hear in venues with the words “music hall” or “opera house” in their names, though only in the kind of country or small town opera house that more often hosts town dances than operas.
Today’s Not Yesterday introduces the Sisters’ harmonies immediately with “Autumn,” a melody that combines Lily’s and Abigail’s voices in perhaps the most haunting melody on the album.
One of the cooler sounds The Chapin Sisters employ is a folk harmony and song structure atop country-style slide guitar and strumming. Like I said, Americana. But those harmonies are special. One song that delivers well on this promise is “Sleep In.” The wall of sound almost hints psychedelic, as if the song could have been a Woodstock favorite. Likewise, “There Will Be a Time For Us” has a similar style, with a catchier singalong chorus but more picking and less slide guitar.
“Love Come Back” is perhaps the most country song on the disc, and even it lyrically, stylistically hints a bit at folk-rock.
The Chapin Sisters have sometimes been compared to early ’70s soft rock acts, and I get that. For example, the catchy “Angeleno.” With its slide guitar and airy California-esque vibe, it really sounds like an Eagles tune. “Chasing the Rain” is stylistically similar, with perhaps a bit more of a psychedelic feel to it. This may well be my favorite track on Today’s Not Yesterday for its laid-back feel and rich, lush sound.
“We Will Not Stop” shows another interesting side of The Chapin Sisters’ songwriting; it’s a powerful, emotive, anthemic, ’70s folk-style protest song.
Overall, Today’s Not Yesterday is a great disc that centers on big harmonies-driven, ’70s folk rock-influenced modern Americana, with pleasant journeys toward each of those influences with a return ticket back from song to song. Regardless, the harmonies are special, the sound big enough to fill a music hall, and the 12-song disc a pleasant ride.