For The Lifers, a sister duo from Guelph, ON, “Honey Suite” is an apt moniker indeed for their latest album… harmonies as sweet and intense as honey, a suite of songs by turns quietly intense and powerfully ethereal. Liv and Anita Cazzola are not just about making music, however: with twin goals of sustainability and equity, 75% of the album collaborators are female-identifying, 85% are under 30, and (quoting their bio) “their activities and process reflects their mindfulness and research on how each activity impacts the environment.” Principled and talented both: a great mix.
The album opens with “The Nature of Things,” slowly building from a quiet ballad to a fearsome anthem before its abrupt end, leading into the uptempo tune “Front Door,” which accomplishes the feat of simultaneously sounding like arena rock and chamber folk. (Listen to it – you’ll see what I mean.)
“Sister” was one of the first songs I heard from the album, and demonstrates The Lifers’ ability to pair thoughtful lyrics with their unique folk sound. (It also includes some great accordion sounds, which is why we included it in our recent “National Accordion Awareness Month” episode of Gossip Talkin’ Blues.) “Wake,” with its quiet, almost spacey ambiance, is easily one of my favorite tracks from the project – the last minute of the song, featuring just harmonies over a simple instrumental, is coolly delectable. “Pull Me Under” is another anthemic delight, exploring the juxtaposition between the delight of love and the twin oppressions of fear and anxiety: “Slowly reaching through my fingers, I don’t want to be alone but I’m terrified of swallowing shores. So kiss me as if I were sleeping; be gentle with my body, I don’t want to go.”
“Honey Suite” is a confident, self-assured effort from Liv and Anita Cazzola, sure to delight not only folk music devotees but rock and pop fans who are willing to try something a bit different. With tight harmonies, contributions from a variety of instrumentalists, and its lyrics focused not only on nature but also inward reflections, this is a project that will reward repeat listening with new insights. I look forward to what I hope is a long and fruitful career for The Lifers.