American folk/rock duo Indigo Girls aka Amy Ray and Emily Saliers released their major label debut album Strange Fire in 1987. It was their second album, a self-titled set, released in 1989 that saw them have their breakthrough with the collection reaching 2x Platinum in the US. The lead single Closer to Fine has become of the duo’s signature hits and since then they’ve consistently released albums with their most recent, One Lost Day, arriving in 2015. Five years on from that album and Indigo Girls are back with Look Long, produced by John Reynolds.
Look Long carries on the long-standing tradition of Amy and Emily writing separately and on this record Amy has penned 5 tracks while Emily has penned 6. The album opens with Amy’s Shit Kickin’, one of the edgier tracks on the collection. Incorporating a little inflection of gospel in places, Shit Kickin’ is a self-belief anthem about pushing through life despite the obstacles that land in your way all too frequently. The album quickly switches gear with Look Long, the title track written by Emily, which is a gentle Country ballad that shines a spotlight on the duo’s harmonies. They’ve always sounded incredible together and they are in tune with one another now as they ever have been.
One of the most unexpected moments comes on Howl At The Moon, an uptempo, rhythmic moment that you want to turn up loud and dance to in the sunshine. It’s one of the more carefree moments here and it’s a nice switch from the heavier subjects of the majority of the songs. The duo embraces their rock sensibilities on the pounding Change My Heart, a song that would have likely done very well during the rise of female singer-songwriters in the mid-90s. Lyrically the duo is as sharp as ever and the chorus has a strong and memorable melody.
Other highlights on the record include Country Radio, which tells the story of a gay kid who loves Country music despite not being able to identify with the lyrics of the songs. As openly gay artists, who are involved in politics and activism, Indigo Girls add plenty of weight to the words they sing. Gun control, an oft-discussed topic across America, is tackled on Muster, a song that feels a lot lighter than it actually is once you start digging into the lyrics.
Elsewhere on the record harmonies are at the forefront of the beautiful Feel This Way Again, Favorite Flavor has a grungier rhythm that takes you right back to the glory days of the 90s, and closing track Sorrow and Joy brings the tempo back down mentioning the shooting of Reagan and points out that sorrow and joy often come together in life.
Look Long is a solid album from Indigo Girls. Lyrically they’re as sharp as ever and those harmonies are still a draw after all these years. I’ve often felt that the duo has never quite got the recognition they deserve but they continue to delight their fanbase with these relatable and thought-provoking songs. If you’ve never really checked out Indigo Girls, now is a good time to dive into their music, starting with this strong new record.
Track list: 1. Shit Kickin’ 2. Look Long 3. Howl at the Moon 4. When We Were Writers 5. Change My Heart 6. K.C. Girl 7. Country Radio 8. Muster 9. Feel This Way Again 10. Favorite Flavor 11. Sorrow and Joy Record label: Rounder Records Release date: 29th May 2020 Buy Look Long