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In the NPR parking garage, Gemma Doherty pulled her 34-string lever harp from the band's vehicle; it seemed bigger than all of us. The other instruments were less exotic — a few small synthesizers, a sampler, electronic drum pads — but I was feeling thrilled by what was about to unfold.
Saint Sister makes the sort of music I've been fascinated with for much of my life, music that mixes the organic with the electronic. In this case, the organic sounds come from that Dusty Strings harp and the harmonies of Gemma Doherty and Morgan Macintyre, with electronics performed on keyboards by Morgan and Dek Hynes, and the mostly digital drums of Shane Gough.
Some find this kind of joy in the pairing of wine and food, the way one element enhances the other. That blend is at the heart of my passion for Saint Sister. You can hear it in the chiming sounds of the Roland keyboard, the click of the drum and how it extends and enhances the sound of the harp. All the while Gemma and Morgan are singing about lost love, with lines like "You on the blue carpet / We swapped bodies for a while / What was I doing all of those years?" from the song "Causing Trouble."
Saint Sister have only been putting music out into the world since Madrid, their first EP in 2015, and then Shape of Silence, one of my favorite albums of 2018. There's a spaciousness in this music, something they acknowledge in the title of that album. It's a welcoming sound that works magically in this setting.
- "Causing Trouble"
- "Shape of Silence"
- "Is It Too Early? (Kilmainham)"
- "The Mater"
Gemma Doherty: vocals, harp, keys; Morgan Macintyre: vocals, keys, electronics; Dek Hynes: keys; Shane Gough: drums, vocals
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Beck Harlan, Maia Stern, Jeremiah Rhodes; Production Assistant: Paul Georgoulis; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photo: Michael Zamora/NPR