Category Archives: femnista

The Secret Sisters

I was browsing the CD selection at my favorite thrift store when I accidentally discovered a new favorite group. It was one of those “inspired by” albums that had caught my eye. You know the type—compilations of songs inspired by a particular movie, show, etc. This one was The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. I’m not even a Hunger Games fan, but I already loved one song on the track-list, so I tried the rest of them out. I wanted to taste a little more of that dystopian folk feeling I’d sampled before, so, I figured, why not?

Musical duo The Secret Sisters contributed “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” to the album. The first time I heard it, I knew I’d love it for a long time. It’s exactly my kind of song: simple, lilting, slightly melancholic, and textured. Inspired by this new find, I explored the team’s YouTube channel in search of more tunes. The Secret Sisters, I learned, really are sisters. They perform a unique type of music that seems inspired in equal measure by a variety of genres: Folk. Country. 1940s/50s dance. Bluegrass. Hymns. Whatever its exact specification, I love it, because it never stays the same thing for too long. All their music sounds cohesive, but there is variety too.

Many of their songs are fairly dark: several deal with severe familial dysfunction, buried crimes, and, as one might expect, heartbreak. In certain offerings, such as “Iuka” and “Mississippi,” there’s a distinct Bonnie and Clyde aesthetic going on. Others, like “Carry Me” and the aforementioned “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder,” are gentle, soothing, urgent reminders of hope. In the romantic department, the Sisters jump from the sassy self-actualization of “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “You Don’t Own Me Anymore” to the wistful long-suffering of “Something Stupid” and “To All the Girls Who Cry.”

Whatever the range of topics they explore, the duo usually lets faith and heritage under-gird each record, typically in brief and unobtrusive ways. Several of their albums end on traditionally religious notes, with ballads like “House of Gold” and “Flee as a Bird.” And occasionally they’ll break from the somewhat heavy themes that characterize most of their music, as with the nostalgic and unabashed celebrations of their Southern upbringing found in “Little Again” and “King Cotton.”

From a technical standpoint, the women’s vocals are excellent. Their harmonies are elegant and spot-on; and, though their voices are distinct, it’s equally pleasurable to hear either of them sing individually. Neither appears to be the stronger musician, and it’s refreshing to see a duo that shares the balance of vocal power, playing to each other’s strengths.

I love The Secret Sisters. I love the sound of their music; I love its steeped-in-Americana soul. I love the authenticity, timeliness, and circumspection that the lyrics convey. They came to me at the right time and I’m grateful for it. If you’re ever in need of fresh music that will unsettle even as it calms you, I highly recommend them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Olivia R. is an aspiring author, story enthusiast, and current college student. She can be found at Meanwhile in Rivendell, where she blogs about books, movies, television, and assorted odds and ends.

Let It Be: How Yesterday Fails to Change History

What would our world look like if the Beatles had never existed?

That’s the question the movie Yesterday (2019) promises to explore; and I think we can all agree, it’s a fascinating one. By the end of the movie, though, this promise falls flat, when the film’s answer to “what would the world look like without the Beatles?” turns out to be, “basically… the same?”

Allow me to explain.

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Over the Rainbow

During the Great Depression and WWII, the American people flooded to the cinema. For a few hours, a movie could take them away from their troubles, transporting them some place enchanted, where there was no economic depression or war. Love, endurance, and goodness always triumphed. 1938 saw the production of the Technicolor musical The Wizard of Oz. Home, love, and overcoming adversities were a few of the overarching themes. The magical adventure of Dorothy Gale and her friends fighting against The Wicked Witch and searching for their heart’s desires struck a chord with audiences. The songs in the movie are memorable, but one stands out from all the others. And eighty years later, the song “Over the Rainbow” continues to touch lives.

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“I See Dead People”: Viewing The Sixth Sense

Aside from the comedy, there is only one film genre determined by the response it intends to elicit from the audience: the scary movie. These films terrify the viewer while not placing them in any real danger. They can be more suspenseful than gory when the story involves ghosts, and The Sixth Sense is a prime example. It achieves a thrilling effect on the audience through expected genre tropes and unexpected storytelling details.

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Dystopian & Fantasy [Summer 2019]

You may notice a similar theme in the books and films featured in this issue of Femnista. When evil societies want to destroy its humanity’s soul, they attack books first. Books. The fount of all knowledge, wisdom, stories that teach. Books also feature heavily into the one alternate history submission in this issue, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The secondary title character is a famous hoarder of books, possessive of their knowledge, and denying of them to wizards and common folk alike. Their knowledge, he believes, should only be for experienced, learned men. In other words, himself! It’s this greed for books that inevitably drives a wedge between him and another wizard of his time, Jonathan Strange.

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Theodore Roosevelt—Force of Nature

Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt… one of the more famous American personalities in history. While I knew about him on a peripheral level for years, I felt no connection to this complex, interesting man until I watched a little CBS show titled Blue Bloods. It centers on three generations of a family who are or were all involved in law enforcement roles in New York City. The sole person in the middle generation, Frank Reagan, holds the position of Police Commissioner. You could say he views Teddy Roosevelt as somewhat of a role model. He more than once draws inspiration from his life and the lessons he passed down by example. And boy, did Teddy ever live. Continue reading

The Thirteen Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Does one remember that initial meeting with an American Founding Father, when you first hear their name and fixed point in time and history? I do. It was in a cartoon called Ben and Me, based on a child’s book I never read. I learned Benjamin Franklin was not that brilliant, and a mouse took all the credit. Oh, wait, no. That’s not the true Benjamin Franklin. Continue reading

Eric Liddell: A Still Soul

Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love. – Eric Liddell

People often think of Eric Liddell with Vangelis’s glorious ‘Chariots of Fire’ theme playing in the back of their mind. But in my opinion, the classic hymn ‘Be Still My Soul’ should accompany Liddell’s memory. The melancholy tune was one of his favorites and the lyrics define him—for me, at least. Continue reading