The story of The Accidentals’ forming into a viable music group is one that defines the idea of fate to an absolute tee. As taken note of on their Facebook page, the bands’ two leading ladies (and only members), Katie Larson and Savannah Buist, already proficient musicians (Katie being a cellist, and Savannah a violinist) met at their high school in Traverse City, Michigan and subsequently volunteered for a school assignment that saw The Accidentals’ being born. They cite all musical styles from jazz and folk- the founding genres of modern American music -to bluegrass, alternative rock, country, and even classical. Bring them all together and you have yourself either a mish-mash of sounds that absolutely do not fuse to make something pleasurable, or a mish-mash of sounds that absolutely do fuse to make for one of the most ground-breaking musical experiences one might just have in a lifetime. Luckily enough for The Accidentals, their act falls squarely into the latter of those two possibilities.
‘Bittersweet’, their third full-length studio album recorded while the girls are still in high school, demonstrates an understanding and respect for all branches of music and its rich history, with Larson and Buist producing arrangements that even a musician well beyond their years would be impressed by. Their lyrics, instrumentation, and vocal performance is consistently set within the pocket of something individualized, well-versed, and sincere, featuring sweet harmonies and lush, innovative melodies throughout. The way that they are able to bring about all of their aforementioned influences into something coherent and clear is impressive in and of itself. The whole idea of what The Accidentals are trying to do is so off-kilter and avant-garde that anyone in their right mind would’ve initially thought it would blow up in their faces, but truly, from opening track “The Silence” all the way to the ‘Bittersweet’ end in “Blessed”, the girls showcase an overflowing barrage of musical talents that will, by all means, help them greatly in propelling themselves from hometown heroes to chart-toppers as they grow older and develop their already impressive musicality to the brim. There’s room for improvement, there always is, but when these two reach their profound breaking point that can only be brought above by more musical (and life) experience, it’ll be one of the greatest things to come about since grilled cheese.
The only shame for myself as an independent music writer is that I hadn’t been able to find The Accidentals sooner myself, as they are most definitely a group that I would have been covering in my various indie love song lists throughout the years, and so on and so forth. It cannot be expressed enough just how well Katie and Savannah do what they do in their own specially-crafted lane. They are innovators of the musical craft, and that in and of itself spells a very promising career for the duo moving forward. They’re the best folk/jazz/bluegrass/classical/alternative band out there today, featuring clever lyricism (you’ll probably never hear another album with the track names “Lemons in Chamomile”, “Miso Soup”, and “City of Cardboard” all together on it again), an impeccably lush bevy of instrumental talent, and refreshingly sweet, fittingly introspective vocals. It’s nearly impossible to fathom that The Accidentals are still high school students; you’d think them to have been on the music scene professionally for at least a good decade with how proficient they already are at their craft.
In terms of an analyzation of their overall sound, it primarily sits snugly somewhere between the modern, sugary sweet, jazz-inflected alterna-folk emphasized by such artists as Ingrid Michaelson (“Miso Soup”, “Bittersweet”, “Benign Disillusion”) and more of a revolutionized traditional folk sound shared with artists as accomplished as Mumford & Sons, Passenger, and Of Monsters and Men with shades of the softer side of Jason Mraz’s ‘We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.’ thrown in for good measure (“The Silence”, “Bulletproof Glass”, “Mangrove”, “Ghost of a Lie”). This offers listeners with a palatable overall mix accentuated by surprise musical elements hearkening to other genres and eras (the old-school pop/rock progression of “Drive” and the quiet confidence of “Golden Lantern” akin in style to The Civil Wars’ folk/country fusion [meets Feist], for instance) that occasionally pop up to conjure up something magical. As far as excelling at what arguably made folk artists folk artists to begin with- pushing the boundaries of what comes naturally to you out of your own intrinsic musical hearth in order to lay your heart out on your sleeve in the most evident manner, grabbing an audience and pulling them into your personal, inward-looking showcase to affect them with some ace stories -they’re Grade-A connoisseurs on the track to becoming Grade-A+.
If you’re looking for a new indie folk band to get into, you couldn’t do much better than The Accidentals. ‘Bittersweet’ is their best overall release yet, with some of my favorite tracks including “The Silence”, “Us”, “Golden Lantern”, and “Blessed”. For all of the latest on The Accidentals, follow them on Facebook and Twitter! To keep up with all of the latest music reviews, interviews, and more, make sure to follow me on Twitter, too. You can download ‘Bittersweet’ on iTunes for $14.99 or purchase a physical version of the album for the same price on The Accidentals’ official website.