Add two more names to the roster of musical siblings.
Half brother and sister Andy Stack and Melissa Ahern are setting out together as She and the Sun with the release of an LP by the same name. The pair grew up in a musical family and played together casually, but only started working seriously after Ahern began sending her brother demos during college. Ahern does much of the singing and writing, while Stack focuses more on the instrumentation and production.
On this first outing, She & the Sun created a mellow indie-folk album that aims for and achieves a sense of lightness and warmth through calm vocals and the subtle use of eclectic instrumentation – everything from trombone to mandolin. This is what sells a song like “Instant Gratification”, the second track, which is something of a fun Luddite lullaby where Ahern sings jabs at an age of apps and shortened attention spans with a Feist-like charm.
There’s also a sensitivity for youth that comes through in the earnestness of the songwriting. “Hell If I Know”, for example, speaks to the merit of movement regardless of destination. Ahern sings, “Hell if I know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it anyway.” The lyrics match the slow and steady pacing that rolls the song forward. Similarly with “While You’re Young”, one of two songs Stack takes lead vocals on, the tune implores the listener to “drink up while you’re young, no need to question everything you do.” It’s also a good moment for Stack, who plays many instruments on the album, including the mournful lap steel that punctuates Ahern’s ebbing vocals.
“Mountains” functions as a kind of climax to the album. At six minutes, the song breathes a wistful gorgeousness, building from a simple guitar line to a much more expansive piece with violin work and a fuzzed out guitar break.
She & the Sun’s mood gels quickly, and even though album runs a little long, the sheer appeal begs another spin on the chance of once more feeling something bright.
Essential Tracks: “Mountains”, “Instant Gratification”