Album Review: First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Johanna and Klara Söderberg burst onto the scene with video cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” by Fleet Foxes back in 2008 and took the internet by storm. The duo continued to gain recognition upon the release of Lion’s Roar in 2012 with their single “Emmylou” voted as one of the 10 best singles of the year by Rolling Stone. Stay Gold marks the first album to be released by First Aid Kit on a major label, Columbia.
Wanting to repeat the success of Lion’s Roar, the duo returned to Omaha to record with Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis again. This time they decided to approach the instrumentation a bit differently, adding a 13 piece orchestra to the mix. The extra instruments definitely adds depth and drama to the already beautiful folk orchestrations that Johanna and Klara create. The girls waste no time showing what the difference the added instruments have, opening track “My Silver Lining” is riddled with sweeping strings that compliment the song perfectly.
“Master Pretender” describes being wise beyond one’s years. “I always knew that I was young / But with a head held high and a sharp tongue / I could fool most anyone.” Lyrics that speak not just to the experience beyond their 20 something years but also to their writing and musical talent. The title of the album and title track reflect the themes of Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, reflecting on youth and the want to stay young and innocent. “What if our hard work ends in despair? / What if the road won’t take me there? / Oh I wish for once, we could stay gold / What if to love and be loved is not enough? / What if I fall and can’t bear to get up? / Oh I wish for once, we could stay gold.” With the simple guitar plucking, intricately crafted lyrics, and beautifully harmonies provided by the Söderberg sisters, this is easily my favorite song on the album.
The album presents a wonderfully lush coming of age story, closing out with the perfectly placed “A Long Time Ago”. A simple ballad about the mistakes and oversights of lost young love. Stay Gold is definitely the Söderberg sisters’ strongest album to day and with the amount of growth and talent it shows, I can only wonder what will come next from First Aid Kit.