The Kossoy Sisters are a pair of identical twins, Irene Saletan, who plays guitar and Ellen Christenson who plays banjo. They sing soprano harmony. Their music could be classed as old time American folk. Bowling Green was originally released in 1956. This cassette version is reissued on the Death Is Not The End label and limited to 100 copies.
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- Bowling Green by The Kossoy Sisters
8/10 Robin Staff review, 05 August 2015
The ever commendable Death Is Not The End started out releasing field recordings of prison folk songs from the American South, and has since expanded to release incredible blues records from the likes of Sister O. M. Terrell and gospel from Washington Phillips. Their latest release, ‘Bowling Green’, was initially released in 1956, and it’s another unexpected stunner: the Kossoy Sisters (Irene and Ellen respectively), an identical twin duo backed by guitarist and banjo player Erik Darling, create a folk music that’s at turns calmed and jubilant -- always cresting on the affectionate harmonies of two sisters singing in sync.
It’s the worst of cliches, but the Kossoy Sisters remind me of the Louvin Brothers, in that their guitar picking gently interpolates as if the instruments are supporting eachother; picks and booming hammer-ons create a warm buffer for the sisters’ high, close harmonies, as empathetic as their voices are to one another. The difference is that these sounds are as bare as they come, never relying on percussion or extra flourishes, and often stagnating on one little guitar-picked melody. The lyrics, then, are a suitable type of raw: they say things like “The first time I saw you, you wounded my heart” over little more than a whisper of acoustic strumming.
The kind of quiet resonances that happen on this record are joined with respectful banjo playing from Ellen Kossoy and Erik Darling, both of whom play it as an affectation rather than a dominating feature of proceedings. There’s little fussiness and little to remark on: rather, this cassette documents the minor impact of simply performed songs.
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