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Lily & Maria

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Lily & Maria's sole, mighty rare album is a strange oddity, all the more so for its appearance on a major label. As singers, Lily & Maria sound very much like the sort of high-voiced, virginal female vocalists common in the early-'60s folk revival, like the only somewhat less slightly obscure duo Kathy & Carol (who recorded traditional folk music for Elektra). But the material and production on Lily & Maria show a decidedly psychedelic, late-'60s influence, if only a mild acid folk one. It creates the impression of a couple of choirgirls singing tunes that are a cross between what you'd hear from a choir and a coffeehouse duo. The big difference is that the words are far more inscrutable and enigmatic than anything you'd hear either a choir or coffeehouse folkies singing. The dreamy, obscurely poetic lyrics are very much in the vibe of 1968 psychedelia, and the arrangements are usually eerily sparse to the point of underproduction, to the extent that it seems evident Columbia didn't set aside much of a budget for the sessions. Yet acoustic guitar is sometimes embellished by tasteful, low-key orchestration and electric instruments that add to the appealing, hushed, never-never-land ambience. While the feel is usually laid-back and pretty, there's an overlay of unsettling mystery (particularly when the gothic organ comes in), like stumbling across a couple of self-sufficient orphans in a haunted house. Too, it's not all quiet acid folk, getting into a strident, semi-psychedelic rocking mood on occasion, a more straightforward uplifting folk-rock one on "Aftermath" and a tinge of jazz torch singing on "Melt Me." If you're looking for a reference point, this might appeal to fans of the weird acid folk of rediscovered singer/songwriter Linda Perhacs, though Perhacs' sole album came out after Lily & Maria. Lily & Maria actually weren't as good as Perhacs, and the album's not great, but it's an interesting one. [The 2008 reissue adds mono versions of "Everybody Knows" and "Morning Glory Morning".]

Lily & Maria, Lily & Maria
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