Photo by Stephen Jerkins When the Secret Sisters played their official showcase at South by Southwest in March, they unveiled the songs from their third album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore, not due till the summer. “We don’t like happy songs,” Laura Rogers announced from the stage of Cooper’s Barbecue; her sister Lydia nodded in agreement. And they proved it with one song after another: lovely but depressing tales of faithless lovers and abusive fathers.
Each sister wore bright-red lipstick and allowed dark-red coils of hair to fall over the shoulders of their black dresses. You could tell them apart only if you knew that Lydia, 28, was the taller one with the guitar and Laura, 31, was the shorter one without any instrument. They sang the album’s title track, which has a woman bitterly advising her ex-lover to be less possessive and manipulative with his new girlfriend.
They also sang “Mississippi,” a ghostly murder ballad about a domineering, alcoholic father who shoots his daughter’s intended groom rather than let them elope. And they sang the song from the album’s first video, “Tennessee River Runs Low,” imagining that they had become the Tennessee River as it flows sluggishly by their hometown of Florence, Alabama, burbling a mournful song and burying their heartaches in the mud with the catfish.
“Sadness is a tough emotion to face,” Lydia said later, “and it also makes one of the strongest imprints on a person’s memory, right next to love. When we hear those melancholy tunes, we immediately relate to them and think of the hard things... Sign In to Keep Reading