If you are looking for a happy album, full of joy and elation, then carry on looking, First Aid Kit’s second LP is nothing of the sorts. Gloomy is the best word to describe it, like a winter’s sky just before the storm. Even ‘Emmylou’, which is probably the most cheerful song, has a certain melancholy to it. It is about Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, yet it still has hints of sorrow, the first line being: ‘the bitter winds are coming in, and I am already missing the summer’, highlighting the sadness at the end of the love story.
Johanna and Klara Söderberg vocals are spine-tingling; the sisters are still young yet their voices sound like they carry all the burdens of life, weary of a harsh world. While the music can be deceiving about the mood of the songs, the lyrics lay bare the raw emotion and nature. Take ‘Blue’ as an example, the simple glockenspiel tune reminisces of a care-free childhood, while the sisters sing of loss and ageing. The lyrics of the chorus: ‘You’re just a shell of your former you’, capture the mood of the saddening song.
The Lion’s Roar is not a fun album, nor is it going to be the feel-good album of the year. It is not an instant best-seller, and it cannot be played as background music. This is an album that requires concentration; it has to be listened to from start to finish and if you don’t listen to the lyrics the songs become meaningless. It is an album of simplicity, with its roots deeply imbedded in a country music influence. It is an album with a soul; a soul that has been beaten and battered yet is still as strong as ever. The end result is an album of awe-inspiring beauty, of sorrow and splendour.