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Wiggins Sisters

The Wiggins Sisters – 1999 (Minnesota)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Wiggins Sisters

The Connecticut-based Wiggins Sisters can effortlessly stretch, twist, and layer their elastic voices to custom-fit a variety of styles - country, pop, folk or blues. Their second effort, produced by Lloyd Maines, showcases the interpretive range of the sisters' vocals and harmonies. Straight-up folksong narratives like "Saturday Afternoon," "Ireland" and "Minnesota" appear among the layered, percussive sound of "Desperate Men" and the feelgood raucousness of "Boys from New Jersey" and "You're Mean."

Whether plaintive or rugged, whether producing tight, classic harmony or loose, harmonic echo, the Wiggins' shared vocal gene carries the album. The album's instrumentation - at times acoustically sparse, electrically driven, or rhythmically jangly - complements these varied vocals. Far from expressing one distinct musical style that transcends genres, however, the Wiggins Sisters instead show their comfort in adapting to several established forms.

When it comes to their songwriting, at their least interesting, the songs absentmindedly tug on heartstrings, filling in blanks with ready-made images of diner pancakes, homecoming dances, and the Wildly Dancing Goddess in everywoman and rely on rhyming words that, 9 times out of 10, can be guessed before they're said.

This capable vocal duo, until they, as writers, can master a subltety of lyric to match their nuanced voices, should display their singing strengths through the lyrics of others. With 2 covers (by Jimmy LaFave and Will T. Massey) and 10 originals, this album offers the gamut of the Wiggins Sisters' abilities. (Wiggins Sisters, P.O. Box 768, Westport, CT 06881, (203) 762-7709, Wiggins Sisters, E-Mail: