Beauty Queen Sister


The Indigo Girls’ music has always been marked by two distinct songwriting sensibilities: Amy Ray’s post-punk brashness and Emily Saliers’ more folk-inspired, laid-back vibe. That split-brain approach remains intact on the duo’s 14th studio album, but the tug of Saliers’ quieter style dominates. Soft-lit ballads and outdoorsy acoustic pop abound, nestled in rootsy instrumentation and a production approach (courtesy of Peter Collins, on hand for the first time since 1994’s Swamp Ophelia) that often brings to mind the soundscapes of Daniel Lanois. Finest moments include “Share the Moon,” a Ray tune driven by swooping violin and muted, rumbling percussion, and “Gone,” a Saliers-penned piano-pop ditty that evokes mid-’70s Elton John. Even when the album rocks, as on the fuzz-guitar-fueled “Making Promises,” the effect is more Paul Simon than Paul Westerberg. After a quarter century together, the Indigo Girls’ chemistry now seems safely nestled in a place of subdued grace. –Russell Hall

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