McCullough Girls – Bad Daughter (Independent)
The McCullough Girls – Callie and Deborah – are a mother / daughter duo from Stratford, Ontario. Formerly known as The Wildwood Flowers, in 2008 they released a self-titled debut album to some acclaim, and have taken their time with their follow up release. It was time well spent. Musically, they inhabit the space where traditional country, bluegrass and Americana overlap, and the pair, who both sing and play a multitude of instruments, appear intrinsically comfortable with the music they’re making.
“Bad Daughter” was recorded in Nashville and produced by Dave Fowler (Dolly Parton, Tracy Lawrence, Collin Raye). Together they’ve shaped a record that sounds authentically old-school country, yet utterly timeless. The arrangements leave plenty of space for their voices, which enchant, whether solo or together, and acoustic instrumentation; between them they play guitar, autoharp, mandolin, bouran, dulcimer, and something called a bangitar – which I hope is as much fun as it sounds!
Standout tracks come thick and fast. Opener “Old Dirt Road” is dark and mysterious, and taps into old mountain music and blues - a particularly strong start. The title track delivers on several fronts, including exquisite vocals, some subtle lyricism and a gentle, rolling melody, while “Everything Changes” is a delicate rumination on personal evolution, wrapped up in a near perfect three-minute country-pop song. As the album progresses, “Can't Get Worse” has much in common with the sort of thing Kelly Willis was doing 20 years ago – warm, rootsy, mature pop - and on “The Stone” they prove just as adept when they slow things down and apply a little pathos.