Whatever else you think of The Coen Brothers' post-modernist version of a 1930s populist hobo narrative, O Brother, Where Are Thou? is the film that largely shaped the current--and quickly waning--decade in popular music, and The Peasall Sisters were there at the creation. As the voices of George Clooney's daughters, the Wharvey Girls, the Peasalls displayed vocal chops they acquired in church, and went on to make a couple of records in the ensuing years. Nine years later, they're facing the challenges that many very young performers discover as they move from childhood into adolescence.
The daughters of a Robertson County couple (there are three more siblings in the Peasall family), Sarah, Hannah and Leah started performing early and passed their fateful movie audition in 1999. The success of O Brother rekindled an interest in bluegrass, old-time gospel and other forms of pre-rock 'n' roll music that the Peasalls were perfectly poised to exploit. They released an album in 2002 and another in 2005, touring extensively.
Produced by John Carter Cash, Home to You marked the halfway point of a decade dominated by the sort of voices and approaches that the pop revolutions of the previous 40 years had supposedly made obsolete. Here were pious young women singing in exquisite harmony, thanking Jesus and their parents and writing songs that sounded as if they had been around for centuries. The eldest, Sarah, had the most commercial voice, while middle sister Hannah sounded nicely astringent and Leah was the bluesy one.
When they blended their voices, they achieved an odd density, a retroactive foreshadowing—and they seemed ancient. Cash's production cannily added harmonium, accordion and, on several tracks, the drumming of the great session player Gene Chrisman, who had once backed Dusty Springfield singing "Son of a Preacher Man." It was a superb record that combined covers with first-rate originals such as Sarah and Leah's "Gray County Line."
Since then, the Peasalls have been trying to establish themselves as songwriters. They appear these days backed by a rhythm section, and early reports indicate they're writing in a somewhat pop-friendly manner on songs such as "Fate, Texas" and "Sinner's Prayer." Sarah is 22 and her sisters are teenagers. It should be interesting to see if the women who helped define a decade will allow its new marketing tendencies to shape them.
It's not because he's black, altho his being black & throwing it in our face…
Guys it's because he's black.
Damn good band. Wish they'd release that mashup as an mp3 or something, it's cool.
Chuck Mead is one Nashville's top 10 treasures. BR-549's performances at Robert's were a key…