The Sterling Sisters : Hale


2013 : Pesanta Urfolk
Format : LP

Like Jazz, the Blues and arguably a few other genres of music, Country is a truly American invention. Rooted in the rural South and infused with equal parts Blues, Gospel and desperation, it was one of the first styles that could honestly claim to be “by the people – for the people”. Like a lot of things, what its become bares little resemblance to what it once was. The sappy, cheating songs and tear-jerking cheap shots are barely even a shadow of the dark as hell corridors of it’s forebears.

The past few years has seen a resurgence in the spirit of Real, True, Oldschool, (insert adjective) Country. Like Metal, early Hank III, Shooter Jennings and several others all vying for that mantle of Keeper of the Flame. Some of it good, some of it not so good, but the above mentioned folks always had an air of falseness to me. Enter the Sterling Sisters. Now I’ll admit to looking at these five kids out of Baltimore with a very skeptical eye the first time I was told about them. My “art school hipster” sense was tingling, but all it took was an honest listen to reassure me they were bringing something fresh and heartfelt to the table.

And we might as well go ahead and get this out of the way since you won’t read anything, anywhere that doesn’t mention the fact that head honcho George Cessna is the son of Slim Cessna. Yep, that Slim, as in Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. While I’m sure his daddy’s influence is undeniable (how could you grow up in that home and not be?), but for me the comparison ends there. Stylistically, George has more claim to the throne left empty by Hank Williams, Sr. than any of his living kinfolk. That young mans voice conjures up vivid images of smokey hotel rooms, overflowing ashtrays, a half empty glass of bourbon and a Colt revolver resting lovingly on a King James Bible.

The juxtaposition between George and the operatic powerhouse that is Scout Paré-Phillips is a truly amazing listening experience. They’re the Loretta and Conway for the Kali Yuga generation. If “Red, White, And Beauty” doesn’t have you weeping in your pint glass, I’ll buy the next round. And not to discredit the rest of the band, the whole ensemble just smokes: Andrew Hass on banjo (who I’ll be damned doesn’t get all Black Metal on “Shallow Blood”), Corey Hughes on drums, Eric Paltell on guitar/pedal steel, plus Scout and George on bass and guitar respectively.

This is a all killer / no filler ride if ever there was one, but don’t take my word for. In fact don’t ever take my word for anything. There’s plenty of avenues out there now to try before you buy, and after you do, head on over to the Sister’s Bandcamp page or Pesanta and grab a copy. It lift your spirits quicker than a tent revival.


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