Indigo Girls: One Lost Day

indigo-girls_one-lost-day

Indigo Girls
One Lost Day
(IG Recordings/Vanguard)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If the thirteen studio albums tracing a career that began back in 1987 show anything, it’s that Georgia’s Indigo Girls continue to work within a folk/rock framework of their own invention without sounding stale or repetitious. Certainly the four year break after their last release, which includes a terrific solo stint from Amy Ray, has provided time to recharge their jets and craft these 13 solid songs.

While little has altered in the way Amy and Emily Saliers write and arrange songs that weave their voices around each other when they are not harmonizing, One Lost Day sees the duo taking some sonic chances. Most apparent is on “Happy in the Sorrow Key” that kicks off like a scrappy garage rocker, gradually adding strings for one of their most invigorating and driving performances. At six and a half minutes, “Findlay, Ohio 1968” is one of their longest and most personal ballads. It finds Saliers exploring what possibly her earlier years with tenderness and simplicity against minimal heartbeat thumping drums. Ray returns the feeling with “Fishtails” that also takes a sober look back at how a family’s troubled past influences its history. “The Rise of the Black Messiah,” about lynchings and slaves in the South led by Ray’s husky vocal, is one of the Girls’ toughest and most intense moments.

In contrast the pure pop of “Learned it on Me” eases some of the tension and “Southern California is Your Girlfriend” is as sunshine drenched as its title implies with the two voices swirling atop a melody that’s instantly memorable. As usual, there is a fair share of relationship oriented tracks such as the self-explanatory “Spread the Pain Around.”

Even if some of these topics aren’t novel in the Indigo Girls’ catalog, their veteran sense of song construction and experimentation, aided by working with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin for the first time, keeps the vibe renewed and enticing. Existing fans will be thrilled with both the material and performances that show nearly 30 years down the line, the twosome finds innovative ways to keep their music fresh while maintaining the unique qualities that made it so distinctive to begin with.