Living Sisters

Love to Live

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Equal parts doo wop, vocal jazz, and Norman Rockwell-era Americana, Love to Live is a product of another time, an album that wouldn’t seem out of place on the phonograph of some postwar American living room. It’s a clever premise, really -- assemble three L.A.-based songbirds into one girl group, give them a copy of the Andrews Sisters50th Anniversary Collection, and see what happens -- and the gamble pleasantly works, at least as far as neo-nostalgia acts are concerned. Like She & Him and the Ditty Bops, the Living Sisters devote most of their time to an amalgam of retro sounds and forgotten genres, infusing a little contemporary appeal into the mix but always remaining focused on the past, not the present. And like most mid-century girl groups, they all have specific roles to play: Inara George is the unspoken leader, Eleni Mandell is the brainy workhorse (of the album’s eight original tunes, four are her own), and Becky Stark is the cute ingénue, the Baby Spice of the boomer generation. All three have demonstrated their ability to sing with other groups, and the close harmonies on Love to Live are virtually flawless, particularly on album highlights like “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down” and “Double Knots.” There are occasional missteps, of course, with Becky Stark’s spoken interlude in “Cradle” -- a spot-on vintage ballad that dissolves into pure camp -- being the worst offender. But the vocals rarely disappoint, and vocals are Love to Live’s bread and butter, anyway.

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