Date: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Stuart’s Opera House
When Indianapolis sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz first started making music together, it didn’t cross their minds that they could make a living at it. Although they now find themselves in an acclaimed full-fledged career, what got them here has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with the spirit.
“The music will always be first,” says Lily. Indeed, Lily & Madeleine’s artistic souls are obvious to anyone who has heard their recordings. From the beginning, the sisters’ calling card has been the breathtaking and intuitive union of their voices.
When the two come together in ecstatic and seamless “blood harmony,” it’s a sound that continues to haunt long after the songs are sung, leaving an electrical charge behind like a sparkling tracer in the air. Lily & Madeleine however, are equally distinctive as soloists as they are as harmony singers. When they step out individually as vocalists, Lily’s warm, smoky alto is the counterpoint to Madeleine’s crystalline, bell-like soprano.
That calling card is just as clear on their new material as it is on the cover songs the duo uploaded to YouTube for fun in late 2012. It was through these first videos that producer Paul Mahern, a staple of the Midwest music scene and frontman for punk band Zero Boys, recognized something special in the sister’s sound and enlisted the help of songwriter Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller). Mahern challenged the girls to write a song a day, with Childers as mentor.
It’s that experiment that would become Lily & Madeleine’s first EP, The Weight of the Globe. In early 2013, they released a sparse, simple version of first single, “In The Middle,” to YouTube. When a neighbor of Lily & Madeleine shared the video on Reddit, the song hit the site’s front page. Within hours the video received over a quarter of a million views. It also attracted the attention of Asthmatic Kitty Records. They quickly signed Lily & Madeleine and issued the EP on 10-inch.
Just a month after Globe dropped on vinyl, the duo re-entered the studio and recorded their self-titled debut, which was released in October of 2013 to both critical and fan acclaim. Of the music, Jon Pareles of the The New York Times writes, “the thing that flags them as extraordinary is their sibling vocal blend, deep and seamless and relaxed,” while American Songwriter describes, “Their voices can pierce through the chaos of everyday life and actually make you stop what you’re doing.”
Since that release, the sisters have toured worldwide, including a sold-out U.K. tour and a very special capacity performance at the historic 1,200-seat Circle Theater with their hometown Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They’ve played on live national TV (a slot on CBS “This Morning”) and were crowd favorites at 2014’s Lotus Festival. Yet, the girls have remained modest, sticking to hard work as their imperative.
As young as they are, Lily, 17, and Madeleine, 19, are their own women. The songs on Fumes acknowledge childhood’s end and announce the entrance into adulthood—a place where the road ahead is unknown and sometimes dark. Facing the darkness head on, Lily & Madeleine at times hark back to the female-driven post-punk band The Raincoats, delivering a distaff perspective that is equal parts beauty and toughness, sugar and salt.
Many of the songs on Fumes also touch upon movement and transition, from leaving a situation to “find out who you are” (“Lips and Hips”), or to escape (“Cabin Fever,” “Ride Away”). The album is very much a travelogue that speaks to the essence of a restless creative spirit, and the sisters’ desire to break new ground.
“Fumes,” says Madeleine, “shows our transformation as musicians and as women, and was inspired by our experience on the road as well as the life experiences of people close to us. It’s a perfect reflection of this stage of our lives.”
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