Since they met in 2009, Jenny Goodspeed, Katie Clarke and Stephanie Marshall have taken their abilities in three-part harmony higher each year they’ve been together. They’ve presented indisputable truth in this regard on their latest studio release, Sugar Shack, and in a recent live performance at Brooklyn’s First Acoustics series.
The album kicks off with a Katie Clarke composition, “Lightnin'” a bluegrass barn-burner.
The torch gets passed to Jenny Goodspeed on the next track, a cautionary tale about a lover whose trouble she can see coming “Six Ways to Sunday.”
Stephanie Marshall takes the lead on the Townes Van Zant cover, “If I Needed You.” Their live performance of this song gave me chills.
The title track, written by Jenny, features her on lead vocal, but still demonstrates a virtuosic vocal blend from all three group members.
“In this Valley” is a gospel song with a sweet lap steel backup on which Katie takes the lead vocal.
The round-robin continues as Stephanie takes the lead on “Good Fortune,” with songwriting credits given to all three. Along with their seamless harmony, there’s some gorgeous slide backup on this one.
“Don’t Send Me Up to Heaven,” written by Katie is an upbeat bluegrass gospel number that’s going to make bluegrass audiences ecstatic.
Another Katie Clarke composition, “Love Comes Back,” is about pushing through heartache and believing that life brings love around again. Their singing convincingly makes the case.
“Sunday Best” continues the parade of beautiful melodies with a song about letting go of hope for a love that has failed to live up to its early promise.
“West County Line” is inspired by a vision of a countryside that puts life in perspective, laying dark moods to rest through its sheer beauty. Both dobro and pedal steel complete the mood.
The album closes with a James Taylor cover, “That Lonesome Road,” that is done a cappella and demonstrates the nuances of harmony these three are capable of.
It’s said “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” but both the inviting photo on the front and the three pretty faces on the back manage to reflect the beauty of the music within.
The above small gallery of photos is a sampling from The Boxcar Lilies’ performance at First Acoustics Coffeehouse series. More can be viewed at: