“Ghost Stories,” The Whitmore Sisters (Red House Records)
Sibling harmony can be a contradiction in terms.
It also makes for lovely music, and that’s the case here.
The sisterly sonorities of Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore mesh beautifully on their duo debut, the voices are easy to differentiate but complementary as they explore a range of styles.
“Ghost Stories” is an album of loss, with death and grief recurring themes, but the Whitmores also sing about too much fun. The set benefits from the guidance and guitar work of producer Chris Masterson, Eleanor’s husband and partner in the duo the Mastersons. Her considerable violin/fiddle skills are also effectively deployed in a variety of ways.
The Whitmores’ original material includes songs rooted in the bayou (“The Ballad of Sissy & Porter” is a Cajun-style stomper) and the Bijou (“Greek Tragedy” could be a movie theme). Vocals soar, and not just on “Learn to Fly” (the sisters are both pilots). A carnivalesque rendition of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s witty “Big Heart Sick Mind” rides a delightfully cheesy Ace Tone organ into pop territory.
The other cover is “On the Wings of a Nightingale,” written by Paul McCartney and recorded in the 1980s by the Everly Brothers. The Whitmores’ version is sparer, and Eleanor and Bonnie each takes a harmony part, as if beckoning the listener to supply the melody. Their music is that inviting.