"By the end of the night I want you to tell me what shape my earrings are so you all better move up front," welcomed The Watson Twins to the thin but enthusiastic crowd at Salt Lake City's The State Room. The Watson Twins, ala real life identical twins Leigh & Chandra Watson, made their second visit to Salt Lake Tuesday night, this time as a headlining act in support of their newest release Talking To You, Talking To Me, or as they affectionately refer to it as TTY, TTM.
Originally from Kentucky and now living in the hipster neighborhood of L.A.'s Los Feliz, the sisters started their recording careers with Jenny Lewis, as Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins recording the 2006 album Rabbit Fur Coat while simultaneously releasing their first album Southern Roots under the Vanguard label.
With the twins new album Talking To You, Talking To Me, The Watson's vocals and songwriting has matured from an alt/country/indie sound to something more polished and their own. Swooning with velvety touches of their Southern roots with a splash of Portishead and a twist of classic R&B, their harmonies and music meld in an oh-so-groovy vibe.
On stage the twins were funny personal and approachable, joking with one another and the crowd, all the while grooving in their obviously-they-are-runners-short-skirts and oh so hot cowboy boots. "We had them put these tables down on the floor so we could see some table dancing tonight. So let's see some dancing."
Supported by Kip Boardman on organ, Harris Kidman on bass and birthday boy Eddie Benrock on drums, the twins' set list flowed between new and old releases including TTY, TTM's Devil in You featuring guest guitarist Mitch Townsend (a Watson Twin's alum who just happened to be playing the same night at SLC's Urban Lounge) and a sexy cover of Sade's Sweetest Taboo. Referring to the recent floods in Tennessee where most of their family now lives, Leigh quipped, "We would have been big in Nashville if Chandra hadn't written the song Harpeth River . She wrote it and then the floods came. That's the last time we'll write a song with a prediction in it." The vocals and harmonies of Harpeth River and Midnight most relect the Portishead influence, and sent me to a sublime, lazy, winter-snow-falling afternoon. Ahhhhh.
One of their best songs of the night was a remake of The Cure's Just Like Heaven, recently released on HBO's Grammy-nominated True Blood soundtrack. How could one of my all time favorite 80's songs possibly be improved upon? The Watson Twins flipped it, massaged it and created an amazing, sexy sound totally their own. I can see why it was picked up for the vampire's steamy sex scene. For me? Sorry Robert Smith, I think you've been replaced.
After a quick exit backstage, The Watson Twins emerged as a duo for an encore with just one guitar. As Chandra beelined to the center of the State Room dance floor Leigh uttered, "I'm not sure what we're doing, I'm just following her," and with the lights hung low the Twins serenaded the crowd (yes I mean right smack dab in front of me and my husband) sans microphone with a lovely, lovely harmony. I have no idea what the song was called, but it was beautiful and made me think I was sitting at a Lake Powell campfire under the stars listening to their voices so pure, so close. It was a such a pleasure and that moment reflects the true charm and style of what is at the heart of The Watson Twins.