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At Home With the Chenille Sisters

The Chenille Sisters

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Album Review

After a promising but uneven first album, the Chenille Sisters' sophomore effort, a relatively brief concert set called At Home with the Chenille Sisters, is a big step forward for the trio. The decision to record live at the Ark in their hometown of Ann Arbor, MI, was a good one, particularly because so much of the group's repertoire consists of novelty and outright comic material. They begin with a nod to their predecessors, the Boswell Sisters, by covering "Crazy People," a song those real biological sisters introduced in the movie The Big Broadcast in 1932. (The Chenille Sisters are not actually related.) It quickly clues the audience in that the group will be following the harmonic tradition of female vocal trios of the past and that they have a taste for off-kilter material. But unlike their debut album, which sequenced several comic songs upfront, so that the more serious stuff seemed out of place when it appeared, this one makes a point of alternating laughs with straight and sentimental songs. So, for example, group member Connie Huber's lament for old age, "Plastic Roses," sets up group member Cheryl Dawdy's hilarious tribute to high heels, "Girl Shoes." Huber shows that she, too, can raise a smile with "Bad Habits" and "The Break-Up," as can group member Grace Morand with "Disenchanted." The trio is a little less effective with the sincere stuff, although they turn in an effective version of Holly Near's account of Chilean kidnapping and torture, "Hay una Mujer Desaparecida." Still, when it comes to covers, they are better off with the dazed hippie love song "Frank Mills" from the Broadway musical Hair. With most of the songs boasting only Huber's acoustic guitar for accompaniment, a resemblance to the Roches is perhaps unavoidable, but this is a group whose humor is much less black and whose overall style is more conventional, if no less enjoyable than the folksinging sisters from Suffern.

Biography

Formed: 1985

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Chenille Sisters' quirky appeal truly reaches across all ages — while their irreverent country-folk sound was originally targeted to adults, they have also recorded a number of albums specifically for children. Formed in 1985 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Chenille Sisters are comprised of Cheryl Dawdy, Connie Huber, and Grace Morand, none of them actually siblings; after becoming a local cult favorite on their strength of their lovely harmonies, in 1986 they independently released their self-titled...
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At Home With the Chenille Sisters, The Chenille Sisters
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