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Love and China

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Album Review

Recording for Rounder's slightly hipper ZOË records imprint, Nerissa and Katryna Nields' duo debut Love and China gently walks the line between alternative pop/rock and earnest alt-country beautifully. When the two sisters were asked to leave the fellas in their band the Nields behind for a stripped-down series of sets on the 1998 Lilith Fair tour, they tentatively agreed. Their nervousness about playing on their own quickly dissolved, and the resulting partnership yielded the 14 songs on Love and China. Their keening Celtic-influenced harmonies provide an interesting contrast to their decidedly rural American musical roots, almost as if Lilith mastermind Sarah McLachlan recorded an album at Willie Nelson's ranch, or if Aimee Mann were trapped on an island with only George Jones records to keep her company. As outrageous as this idea may seem, the outcome is quite successful; an earthy and honest collection of songs with crisp acoustic strumming underneath soaring slide guitars. Songwriting sister Nerissa's vocals are slightly more successful than Katryna's, but the two together deliver enchanting harmonies, particularly on the album opener "Ticket to My House" and the slightly seasonal "Christmas Carol."

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