Review: The Whitmore Sisters Intertwine Vitality and Versatility ‘Ghost Stories’

There’s nothing so pure and effortless as sibling harmonies. The Everly Brothers proved that early on, and in the hands of Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore, that tradition continues. The pair have intertwined their efforts before; while Bonnie can claim a string of solo albums, she’s also added her voice to the music made by the Mastersons, a duo that includes Eleanor and her husband Chris Masterson.  

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Music has always been a family affair; the sisters’ parents were heavily invested, given that their mother was an opera singer and their father frequented the folk circuit. Consequently, it’s somewhat surprising that this is the first album that credits them both. Yet given the seamless delivery and assured engagement, it’s clear they’re in sync. The decisive delivery of the opening track “Learn To Fly” and the ready ramble of “The Ballad of Sissy Porter” underscore that notion, just as their commitment to a classic countrified approach gives them their solid stance. The two women share the vocals equally, but it’s Eleanor who imbues the music with its down-home sound courtesy of her fiddle, strings, and piano even as Bonnie anchors it all on bass. Chris aids the siblings’ efforts as their guitarist and overseer from behind the boards. 

Though it consists mainly of original material, the album also includes “On The Wings Of a Nightingale,” a soaring ballad originally given to the Everlys by Paul McCartney, and “Big Heart Sick Mind,” a song that came courtesy of Aaron Lee Tasjan. Yet, given the quality of their compositions, practically every offering qualifies as a stand-out. The forlorn lament “Friends We Leave Behind,” and “Ghost Stories” provide a marked contrast to the walloping refrains that accompany “Ricky,” “Hurtin’ for a Letdown” and the aforementioned Tasjan tune.  

In other words, vitality and versatility are freely intertwined. 

While both Bonnie and Eleanor have day jobs to fall back on, Ghost Stories suggests they have good reason to collaborate down the line. Consider it as haunting as its title implies.

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