Live Review: Lily and Madeleine

Broadcast, 24/11/14

American singer-songwriter sisters Lily and Madeleine are just 17 and 19 respectively, but their natural talent and soft-spoken confidence allows them to deliver an impressive live performance.   Using keyboard, acoustic guitar and close-harmony singing; the sisters perform a diverse range of songs that are catchy and pleasant to listen to. Their voices seem to have been made to compliment one another. The harmonies are mesmerising: Lily’s soft alto and Madeleine’s trilling soprano melt into each other seamlessly, creating the soulful sound they are best known for. Both of their voices are exquisite live, despite Lily having recently been ill.

They are joined on stage by musician Shannon Hayden, who adds a unique texture to their songs by alternating between flawless cello and mandolin accompaniment. Hayden also opened for them with an avant-garde solo set that combined classical cello with a loop pedal, dreamy vocals, and highly original arrangements. Her innovative approach therefore gels nicely with Lily and Madeleine’s more traditional folk style, and the three seem comfortable on stage together. The collaboration evidently works so well that Haydon hints the sisters may feature on her upcoming album.

There are some technical issues during the set, with Madeleine’s keyboard cutting out half way through a song, but the spontaneous patter and positivity of the performers successfully transforms this into part of the gig’s overall quirkiness. However, the performance does seem a little contained – perhaps lacking the dynamism implied by the emotional rawness of some of the lyrics. The audience appear slightly reluctant at first, although Madeleine’s onstage charm wins them over eventually.

As the gig draws to a close, Madeleine mentions how great it is that the night had an all-female line-up. She’s totally right in reminding us that gigs like these, in which women really do own the stage with a diverse and creative range of performances, are vitally important for the status of women in the music industry. It’s really quite a privilege to have witnessed such an exciting range of up-and-coming female talent.

[Cat Acheson]

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