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The Living Sisters: Love To Live


The Living Sisters

Album: Love To Live
Label: Vanguard

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Individually, The Bird And The Bee vocalist Inara George, singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell, and Lavender Diamond frontwoman Becky Stark all have gentle, sweet, and uncompromisingly pleasant voices, so it’s not a stretch for them to turn in a collaborative effort that is gentle, sweet, and uncompromisingly pleasant. As The Living Sisters, the trio sticks to jazzy close-harmony tunes that are so deliberately retro they sound like pop standards, even though they’re not. Given the women’s collective vocal prowess, it’s unsurprising that their debut album, Love To Live, is consistently pitch-perfect in the literal sense. But the sweetly natured harmonizing grows less beguiling over extended listening, and eventually blends together into a sugary sonic paste, like musical marzipan. 

Like that confection, Love To Live works best when other flavors are added: The country twang that’s injected into the loping Bessie Smith cover “Good Ole Wagon” and “Blue” is a welcome ingredient, as are the doo-wop handclaps of the sunny “Double Knots.” But for every lovely pop-jazz confection, there’s an incident of undiluted saccharine-sweetness, such as the grating spoken interlude on the sleepy lullaby “Cradle.” But even with such indulgences, it’s impossible to be offended by an album that’s as pleasant and passively enjoyable—and about as complex—as birdsong.