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First Aid Kit cures all

Paradise, Boston, April 3, 2012

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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The band name First Aid Kit doesn't exactly conjure up excitement. The name is not a head turner. Frankly, it's dull.

But in the case of this Swedish duo - sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg - that would be the furthest from the truth as they demonstrated time and time and yes time again before an enthusiastic crowd of about 850 people.

On the disc (the sisters just released their excellent second album, "The Lion's Roar," produced by Monsters of Folk and Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis in January), they opt for a rootsy, sometimes vaguely country sound. That often resulted from the inclusion of pedal steel into the mix.

But the rootsiness of FAK was toned down in concert, FAK's third in the Boston area in less than two years. Yes, a few songs were of the country, roots bent, but FAK mainly mined a pop/folk-based sound based on the power of sisterly harmonies.

Klara Soderberg sang almost all of the lead vocals while playing acoustic guitar with sister Johanna (at 20, she's 3 years younger) typically layering Klara's vocals while handling keyboards. Their cohesive vocals readily recalled all the great sibling duos, making it all sound so darn easy. Not the most exciting talkers, they had a sense of humor and put their long manes of hair to good use, sometimes shaking and shimmying together for good visual effect.

Klara put out the songs with an emotive, full-bodied voice, taking no time for FAK to hit the mark, get in an excellent groove and stay there for the duration of the 80-minute set.

The Soderbergs were abetted by a drummer (Mattias, no last name given), who set a good beat, making for a very full sound.

But the beauty of FAK was that they kept stirred up the musical pot just enough to keep the show always captivating. The most country/rootsy song may have been Emmylou, with a chorus that also mentioned Johnny and June Carter Cash and Gram Parsons. In introducing the song, Klara said Harris was a musical hero of theirs.

The encore consisted of covers of Patti Smith's Dancing Barefoot, putting their own mark on the song. Klara told the crowd they had the chance to sing the cover at a Swedish awards show with Smith in the audience. They would have made her proud. The evening ended with the song that first gave them some notoriety in 2008, a fine cover of Fleet Foxes' Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.

Names certainly can be deceiving because in the case of First Aid Kit, the music is is most curative.