According to van der Voo, The Old Sisters’ Home is Orpheum Bell’s most collaborative effort to date. After recording Pretty as You in van der Voo’s living room and Pearls digitally in a studio, the band was ready to spend more time and resources to flush out a deeper, warmer resonance closer to its live sound. One way this was achieved was by using vintage ribbon mikes. Another way was by spending more money, encouraged by package donations made through Kickstarter.com.
The album opens with “Poor Laetitia,” which features Klein’s gruff vocals and could fit undetected into Tom Waits’s catalog. While Orpheum Bell’s first two albums had an Americana/country-ish undertone, The Old Sisters’ Home is definitely more jazz-oriented. In fact, not until “Family Pictures,” the album’s fifth song, does their familiar blend of Eastern and American roots surface. Jennie Knaggs, a former Kentucky yodeling contest winner who lends backing vocals on three tracks, even adds some yodeling to that number. The album also includes three instrumentals and one song sung in Russian (both Klein and Karapetyan are fluent). Overall, The Old Sisters’ Home has that feel of an album from a band in the right spot--one that’s matured, knows its influences, and is moving forward confidently.
[Originally published in June, 2012.]