The Roches

Moonswept (429 Records)

It's been more than a decade since Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche released a new album together, but you wouldn't know it from listening to Moonswept. The sisters' distinctive harmonies still lock together so precisely that a younger listener might naturally assume them to be a result of technology as opposed to biology (or practice). Nearly 30 years removed from their self-titled debut, they've moved beyond the thrill of lighting up folk music with the spark of youth; much of the material here describes the heavy load of experience, and that includes the number by Lucy Wainwright Roche, Suzzy's twenty­something daughter with Rufus père Loudon Wainwright III. But that doesn't mean the music is spark-free: Three-part harmony has a way of sounding joyful and melancholy at the same time. The Roches capitalize on this quality in "Family of Bones" and the title track, which appears to tell the siblings' sweet-and-sour story with a vocal melody that keeps sliding between consonance and dissonance. Fortunately, their fondness for ribald pre-rock novelty songs hasn't abated with age, either. "No Shoes" is the keeper here, a tongue-­twisting number in which they complain about meeting a man with no balls until the man with no guts shows his sorry face.

 
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