I got hooked on Rising Appalachia at a live concert in Boulder, Colorado. By the end of the show I had traversed from sleepy and stuck to a state of ecstatic sweaty dancing bliss.
What is it about these two sisters that transforms their listeners? The title track of their new album says it all—“Wider Circles.” “We are moving in wider circles. We are opening our circle.”
Their songs embrace it all: the ground, grit, fear, joy, and transcendent. Their eighth album, released earlier this week, includes themes ranging from social justice in the prison system to traditional herbal medicine to a direct plea to death to spare them for another year. Leah and Chloe Smith play off one another in both their harmonies and their passion for the music. Their style is as embracing as their subject matter—rooted in Appalachian folk, it also weaves together twangy bluegrass, spoken word poetry, and soul.
This new album is both subtle and deep, like an intriguing new friend who will take some time to get to know. It feels less fiery than their previous albums, with more of a sense of patience and trust in the unfolding. And, in fact, this album is two full years in the making.
Leah and Chloe embark on their 2015 rail tour this week, taking what they’re calling a “slow music movement” approach. Like the slow food movement, they want to contribute to sustainability and local connections rather than the typical fast-paced glam of the music industry. We’re excited to slowly savor the results.