Long-time readers of this blog will know that I’m a sucker for harmonies, and no more so than when they are performed by siblings (yes, yes, I’m talking about The McClymonts). The Acfields are a brother and sister duo, otherwise known as Dan and Hannah, who can not only harmonise beautifully but do so with that instinctual understanding that seems to exist between singers from the same family.
The Acfields’ eponymous debut album is a little bit country, a little bit folk and a little bit indie pop, but it’s all kinds of lovely. The instrumentation is stripped back (rather than sparse), allowing the obvious stars – the Acfields’ voices – to shine. There are faint echoes of another great sister–brother duo, The McMenamins, although the style of music is different. And while Fleur McMenamin shoulders the songwriting duties in that outfit, both Acfields wrote songs for this album.
Those songs are sweet and also gutsy, plaintive and yearning, and easy to listen to in a way that suggests hidden craft – because songs that easy to listen to are usually hard to write, either hard at the time or because they’re the result of years of learning how it’s done. Such songs are also memorable and they call the listener back for repeated listening. And so it is with the songs on this accomplished debut.