|Sibling Harmony | Posted September 17, 2012
Shealeen and Elle Puckett, Tooth and Nail sister act Poema, released their full-length debut, Remembering You, on Sept. 11. The record is the follow up to the girls' two EPs released in 2010, the introductory Sing It Now, and Once a Year, a Christmas project.
The sisters Puckett hail from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they grew up in a musical family. Twenty-one-year-old Shealeen, who plays piano, was classically trained, while Elle, nineteen, is a self-taught guitarist. When asked about the meaning behind their name, the girls explain that poema is a Greek word meaning "beautiful masterpiece," which is what they hope to create with their music.
While more musically robust than their Sing It Now EP, Remembering You retains the natural aesthetic that Poema fans would expect. The music is a mixture of Nashville sounds--a little country, a little pop, a little folk--but it consistently maintains an organic feel that compliments the sisters' vocal harmonies. Thematically, Remembering You focuses on relationships, with much of the record centered on romantic love. The songs reflect feelings you would expect from young people still learning about and looking for love.
Some songs focus on building relationship: "Wonder" is an optimistic look at a new relationship with a Colbie Caillat feel, while "Falling" focuses on day-dreaming and hoping for love to blossom.
Other songs explore the downside or breakdown of relationship. We see a wiser, been-hurt-before girl on "Play With Fire," as well as the questioning, unsatisfied girl in "Would You" who asks, "If you knew what to do, would you?" Elsewhere, the girls' harmonies are supported by beautiful instrumentation, such as on "Apricots," a bittersweet remembrance of a past love with a tinge of regret for what might have been.
Romantic love is not the only type of relationship explored on the record. Lead single "Clean Getaway" tells a tale of heartbreak from the point-of-view of a child whose father decided to leave his family. Inspired by the real-life experience of a friend, Poema successfully communicates the thoughts, feelings, and questions their friend might have had, while demonstrating that the father's leaving was anything but clean for those left behind: "I wish you'd seen the mess that you made / With your clean getaway."
"My Turn to Go" is about saying goodbye. Written days before the death of their grandmother, the song is a remembrance of her. Sonically, Poema doesn't venture far from their hallmark breezy sound. Consequently, this emotional track never becomes a tearjerker, but it does serve as a reminder that life is short and our moments together brief.
The girls share this lesson in a more romantic context on the melodic "Hesitate." The message: Don't wait to tell someone how you feel, because you may not get a second chance. The youthfulness of their songwriting shows, though, in the unintended ambiguity of a lyric like "All I know is you never know how fast the time is gonna go / We're fools if we take it slow."
Poema joins their appealing vocals to a bouncy bass line from an upright bass and bright acoustic sounds on the peaceful escape, "Footprints." Whether "Love of My Life" has any spiritual significance is unclear, as is the type of lover they are singing about, which seems to flip-flop between being a Heavenly Lover and an earthly one. The album's one overt mention of God, the worship tune, "Your Song," would have benefited from a stronger melody and more inspired lyrics.
Remembering You showcases the musical and vocal talents of sister act Poema with a refreshingly natural acoustic sound. As songwriters, the girls show potential. Though not an overtly Christian record, the girls are believers and are signed to a Christian label. As they mature in their craft, the stories they tell will become more memorable and impactful, enabling the power of their words to match the beauty of their aural presentation. They haven't created the "beautiful masterpiece" their name implies, but almost all the pieces are present, and given time, they should get there.
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