June 20, 2014
Doors at 8:00 pm
Show at 9:00 pm
STG Presents Lily & Madeleine at Columbia City Theater on Friday, June 20, 2014.
Written by a pair of teenaged sisters over the course of their summer vacation and recorded with a band in just a few days, The Weight of the Globe is a musical snapshot of Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz at a pivotal moment in their lives. Madeleine’s off to college, Lily’s sure to follow soon after, and both sisters find themselves pulled in two directions—between a love for the hometown they’ll be leaving behind and their burgeoning wanderlust.
When the sisters began writing together just over a year ago, nobody expected their first song, “In the Middle,” to rack up a quarter of a million YouTube views. The Internet is obsessed with what’s new and what’s next and so it would have to seem a little incongruous for social networks and content aggregators to embrace gimmick-free, black-and-white footage of an unplugged duo crooning a bittersweet and understated melody.
But there’s something inherently incongruous about the music of Lily & Madeleine, a pair of slight teenagers with singing voices this assured and worldly. The Weight of the Globe sounds like something out of another age, not the work of a pair of sisters born less than two decades ago and raised in Indianapolis, the Midwest of the Midwest. No wonder that, on the strength of their viral video performances, the sisters managed to sell out the first two live shows of their career and quickly recruit the help of Asthmatic Kitty Records to release the EP.
The recording project that became the Weight EP started with producer Paul Mahern (John Mellencamp, The Fray), who had fallen in love with the duo’s earlier YouTube videos, and immediately got in touch to invite the sisters into the studio. The sisters started writing their first original tunes over summer vacation and Paul introduced them to bassist and songwriting partner Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) who helped them to refine the material.
But Paul’s main agenda, in producing the record, was to stay out of the way. He was especially keen to invite songwriting sidemen like Kenny and drummer Wade Parish to sit in on these sessions because he knew they’d respect the material. In working up the arrangements, the watchword was discretion: to play softly, to leave plenty of space in the mix, to allow the focus of the music to remain firmly on the Jurkiewicz sisters. Rather than shine a musical spotlight on the duo’s voices, the thinking went, simply allow them to glow. Rather than weigh the songs down with ornamental settings, open them up.
Each song on The Weight of the Globe was written as a discrete, self-contained folk-pop statement, but thanks to the almost real-time circumstances of recording it, the EP holds together like a collection of interconnected short stories. Taken as a whole, the songs chart a journey from love to disillusionment to heartbreak. The songs return to the same places, psychologically and literally: the narrator’s weariness in “Tired” persists into “Things I’ll Later Lose” (“I’ve been hearing things, and I’ve been losing sleep”); the lyrics of “Back to the River” seemingly return to the same mythic river that flows through “In the Middle.”
But that’s just the way it worked out, thanks to Lily & Madeleine’s spare, direct poetic language. There’s nothing calculated about The Weight of the Globe. It’s as sincere as it is precociously sophisticated—and it marks the auspicious debut of a spectacularly talented musical family.