Sonnet Cottage is an alternative folk band from Northern Virginia. The "band" is actually sisters Torey and Rachel Russell with help from guitarist Buddy Speir. They released their debut album, "Another Time" in 2012 and are back with a new album called, "Half Written Story". It is evident from listening to the music that the influences are deeply rooted in classical, folk and jazz music. The songwriting is pretty straight forward and the overall effect of the arrangements is an "ethereal" sound which gives it a nice quality, different from a lot of the Americana or so called alt-country bands populating the landscape these days.
The album starts off with the title track that at first sounds like they borrowed a few licks from Coldplay but settles quickly into a dreamy, melodic statement of purpose. The girls have worked hard on blending their vocals and each has a distinct sound that compliments the other. For my taste, the production on this track is a bit busy and muddled but by the second track, the record has settled into a better groove and production that is a little simpler and emphasizes the vocals a little better. Let's face reality. The songwriting is adequate and sometimes interesting but the best thing this band has going for it is the sister act and the vocal arrangements. The subtle harmonies and interplay between the principals is what sets this group apart from the rest.
Sonnet Cottage has been nominated this year for folk artist of the year and "Half Written Story" is nominated for folk album of the year by the International Music and Entertainment Association’s IMEA Awards. Quite an achievement for a band with just two albums to their credit. The Russell sisters are in their zone and we expect great things from this duo in the future.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.