EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of this post, Frank Gutch Jr., died in late April. Earlier in the month, he had written this review and sent it to the Vogts Sisters, but never got a chance to post it. At the request of the Vogts family, we are publishing this review for Frank, and we're happy to provide one more sample of the great work he did for years for No Depression. For our rememberance of Frank, click here.
By Frank Gutch, Jr. – April 12, 2018
We need more Vogts Sisters in this chaotic mess of a world. We need to step back and breathe and concentrate on the good and not the evil. We need to acknowledge beauty without argument, accept the good in life. Maybe what we need is less city and more mountain in our lives. One thing for sure--- we need more mountain music in our lives.
What if I told you that some of the best mountain music you'll hear this year is coming from Kansas? I've driven through Kansas. Didn't see anything close to a mountain. I suppose the music of The Vogts Sisters is not technically mountain music, though there is something about it that makes me think West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky. No twang to it, but just the same...
I don't know if these girls could twang if they tried. Maybe. What I do know is that their voices bring to mind the likes of the female side of The Carter Family, a female duo reminiscent of the male sound of The Blue Sky Boys and a sense of modern folk to balance them.
Welcome to the world of vocal bluegrass. At least, that's what I call it. I've been around so long that I remember the days of the Blue Sky Boys and the Louvin Brothers and the Carter Family. I remember sitting in front of the radio console listening to the wondrous music of the Grand Ole Opry and enjoying the sounds of country but loving the harmonies of the backwoods. The purity of sound, even when sung a bit off-key. The high lonesome wail, wistful and coyote-like, which were highlights for me.
Broken Ties takes me back to those days. No electric. No power. No gimmicks. Just music presented without accouterment. Voices and instruments. What today might be termed “unplugged” but is more honest than anything.
I would say that the voices make all the difference, but it is more than the voices. It is the light touch on the instruments, the phrasing, the lyrics and, to my mind, the songwriting. My father would have called this “pretty” but what he would have meant is “beautiful”.
My father and I, before he died, used to sit in the living room and listen to music together, him laying on his lounge chair, me with my legs stretched out and my head on the back of the couch. He seldom had requests but when he did it was always for the albums full of harmonies--- George Jones & Tammy Wynette, The Blue Sky Boys, Seldom Scene, Jimmy Martin. He would close his eyes and listen quietly, moving only slightly, At times I would have thought him asleep but for the slight movement of his mouth as he breathed the lyrics. He would have requested Broken Ties, I am certain. And he would have loved every moment of it.