First Listen: The Native Sibling’s ‘Letters Kept to Ourselves’

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Photo courtesy of Sofia Draco

Photo courtesy of Sofia Draco

It’s a treat when an album is passed on to me that holds such promise.

Brother-sister duo Ryan and Kaylee Williams’ music has a clean fluidity that upon hearing always makes my mind wander to water, forests, mountains, and times gone by. Their gentle female/male trade is unique for they have this kind of “Wonder Twin/Super Power” connection when they sing that makes you feel every word. They look at each other and connect with one another during their performance and that’s normally hard to capture in the studio but NY-producer Daniel Mendez (Dashboard Confessional, Duran Duran, Noah Gundersen) had an idea. Says Daniel,

“We really wanted to make a record that would translate well to their live performances. We focused on getting the songs arranged right in their most stripped down form, and played around with a lot of subtle tempo changes to make every part of every song feel as good as we could get it. When it came time to record the vocals, we actually recorded both of their performances at the same time, in the same room, so they could look at each other as they sang and interact the same way they do when they play the songs live.  I really love how that worked out.  I feel like you can tell they’re actually singing together when you listen to this record.”

I asked Kaylee about the process of recording and she had this to say,

“The fact that we tracked the entirety of the album with both of us singing live and in the same room is unique. There’s a lot to be said for gaining courage, encompassing vulnerability, and taking subtle cues from another person while singing. I think that you can hear this connection within the recordings and it makes them special to us.”

The Native Sibling fit right into the current tide of Folk/Americana/Roots acts currently enjoying success in the Seattle scene. For Seattle Indie filmmakers looking for soundtracks, take note for this duo’s songs are so perfect for the big screen. The imagery that you will conjure up upon listening is ripe for licensing for Film/TV and I could easily see The Native Sibling splitting their time in the future between Nashville and the West Coast.

The Native Sibling - Letters Kept to OurselvesLetters Kept to Ourselves is a 10-track masterpiece with beautiful phrasing, rich timbers, with writing credits divided equally between Ryan and Kaylee. “By the time a song is in a more settled state, we both have contributed equally to the lyrics and melodies. Typically, one of us will have a song about half written and then we will bring it to the other and we finish it together”, says Kaylee.

I myself am particularly fond of Track 1 “Darkest of Skies” which is a great opening song to the album and I think particularly features Kaylee’s Celtic quality, Track 3 “Here With Me” that from the first note has a Retro feel of the 60’s and Ryan’s vocals reminded me of a young Roy Orbison, and Track 2 “Carry You“, their current single with beautiful harmonies and instrumentation that make me feel like I’m all alone on a country road without a care in the world, which you can download for free here.

I asked Kaylee if they had any favorite songs off the album.

“Each song holds a lot of meaning to us. Depending on the day, I think that certain themes and certain songs resonate more with each of us. One of my favorites to record was ‘All Remains‘, which will be the last song on the album. We recorded it late at night and in only a few takes. Ryan and I both sang together in the same room, which makes the entire record a honest representation of what we do. There’s nothing to hide behind. It was an extremely emotional and moving process recording this song due to the connection between Ryan and I while singing it.”

I was curious as to the origin of the name The Native Sibling. Says Kaylee,

“The Native Sibling came about from both of our interest in Native American culture. Through our writing process we both draw on the concept of ‘home’ and ‘settling’, both of which are ever-changing definitions. That is what the word ‘native’ encompasses for us. Since we are brother and sister, having the word sibling seemed suiting and also gives an idea of the relationship between us within the name.”

I think you’ll hear influences of The Civil Wars.  Ironically, their nanny was The Civil Wars songstress Joy Williams who still serves as an inspiration to them today. I think Kaylee’s voice has that pure, clear, reed- like quality of an Emmylou Harris or Allison Krauss.

Leading up to the album, the duo released a 3-track self-titled EP called The Native Sibling which immediately garnered attention having been featured as “New and Noteworthy” on iTunes and The song “Carry You” is also an “Editor’s Choice” on iTunes.

Letters Kept to Ourselves released June 24th and is available on iTunes.

The Native Sibling is embarking on a West Coast Tour and will be kicking it off in Seattle.

Sunday, July 13th The Tractor Tavern
Lauren Shera and The Local Strangers
Doors at 8:00 / Show at 8:30

About Robin Fairbanks

Robin Fairbanks has spent 30+ years in the music industry in many capacities. Working in the Seattle music scene since 2006 as a Manager/Booker, she's known for her ethics and artist development skills. Robin has guided the careers of many, but most notable as the former manager of Seattle's Fox and The Law for 3.5 years. Robin has spent the last 2 yrs consulting with Artists who seek her help as a music consultant and publicist with Setlist Music Solutions LLC. She also gives of her time as an advisor to Seattle Wave Radio, an Internet music station where she helped shape its sound as the ROCK Channel Music Director for 2+ yrs upon its launch in 2010 and where you'll find her music blog, "Bird On A Wire".