Webb Sisters

Savages

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Following in the footsteps of Laura Branigan, Jennifer Warnes, and Sharon Robinson, Kent duo the Webb Sisters are the latest Leonard Cohen backing vocalists to step out of the enigmatic troubadour's shadow and grab the limelight for themselves. Having performed on nearly 250 dates of his 2009-2010 world tour, it appears that some of the legendary singer/songwriter's melancholy has rubbed off on them, as while their 2006 sophomore, Daylight Crossing, neatly filled the uplifting MOR pop/rock gap vacated by the Corrs, their third album, Savages, is a much more emotive and rootsy affair which allows Hattie and Charley to showcase their multi-instrumental skills, as well as their enchantingly pretty harmonies. Cohen actually makes an appearance himself, providing the spoken word intro on their hymnal rendition of "If It Be Your Will" (recorded at his London 02 Arena show), but while the pastoral folk of "Words That Mobilise," the haunting lullaby "The Goodnight Song," and jazz-tinged blues of "Amelie's Smile" undeniably bear the hallmark of their mentor, the siblings stamp enough of their own personality on proceedings to prevent Savages from drifting into pastiche territory. Backed by Peter Asher's organic, uncluttered production, the girls' light, expressive vocals are the perfect foil for the plucked-guitar-and-harp opening number "Baroque Thoughts," and the gentle campfire singalong of "Blue and You," but it's on the more inventive, contemporary-sounding material where they truly shine, such as on the Kate Bush-esque driving electro title track, the melodic Nashville-tinged "In Your Father's Eyes," and the ambitious a cappella of "Dark Sky," which fuses gothic folk balladry with Timbaland-style R&B vocal loops. With nine of its tracks previously available on their Comes in Twos and The Other Side EPs, some fans might feel a little short-changed, but for everyone else, Savages is an enchanting introduction to the duo's well-executed reinvention.

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