Twin sisters Sophia and Grace Babb have played music together for years. They especially needed an outlet for their emotions after their father’s suicide. Within a year’s time their friend and violinist, Nia Personette, who had also lost her father, joined the band. Since 2013 they have released three EPs and played hundreds of dates. All of this has been leading up to the recording of their first LP, Words We Mean.
Funding the album through a Kickstarter campaign, the band stayed true to the sound they established during live performances. The influence of producer and bassist Brine Webb, keyboardist Calvin Abney, Cody Brewer on banjo, drummer Steve Boaz, and Kyle Reed on steel and guitar, all add to the overall feel. Still, at the heart of this trio are their impeccable harmonies.
That three women between twenty and twenty-one can make music so mature is a testament to the time they have spent honing their craft. This Oklahoma trio distils harmonies with the care of veterans from The Roches, straight through to All Our Exes Live In Texas, I’m With Her, and First Aid Kit.
The opening strains of ‘Pomp and Swell’ make their intentions clear. “What would I be if I didn’t have you? A handful of potion that casts no good spell.” Both Reed’s guitar solo and Personette’s violin break illustrate that their Kickstarter campaign was well worth the money. There are moments on this album that simply take one’s breath away.
A four-note descending riff highlights the sadness inherent in in the title track as the three sing, “We’ll never say the words we mean.” Yet the last song, ‘Sweet Time’ offers some hope for the future, “Sweet time, Sweet time, I don’t have too much but I’m giving you mine.” Sweet time indeed.
Their label, Horton Records may not be large but their future clearly is. And while they sing sweetly, their subject matter offers an unvarnished look at life. Families are weird, there’s no other way to put it. On ‘Brother’, the Babbs try to deal with some of their own confusion over their brother and their own confusion regarding his religious views. “I don’t know your salvation babe, I’m on hold with your lord.”
The original Annie Oakley had a way with a gun. The band have a way with words and music that deserves a much wider audience. Seek out Annie Oakley’s Words We Mean at all costs. Theirs is a gift not to be missed.