The Secret Sisters took their Southern gothic country music to New York City on Friday night, stirring up some buzz for the deluxe reissue of their second album, Put Your Needle Down, with a performance on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Backed by a four-piece band, sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers swooned and crooned their way through “Iuka,” a swampy rocker about marriage, murder and the deadliest brand of family ties.
In the song, the narrator skips town with her fiancé, knowing her jealous father would rather kill the groom than give away his daughter. The lovebirds’ exit doesn’t go as planned, though. Like a good mystery film, “Iuka” doesn’t tell us exactly what happens once the just-married couple high-tails it to Iuka, Mississippi, thinking they’ve escaped the father for good… only to realize he followed them. Before the song ends, the proverbial camera pans to “two headstones for two lovers who finally got away.” ‘Til death do us part, indeed.
What was missing from the live version on Fallon? Nothing much apart from T Bone Burnett’s string arrangement, which helped push the album track into the same haunting territory as Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe.” In its place, the group laid down a sparse, haunting groove, then blew the doors open with distorted bursts of lap steel guitar. At the front of the mix, as usual, were the close harmonies of the siblings, who co-wrote the song with Dan Wilson — the same Semisonic singer behind Grammy-winning albums by the Dixie Chicks, Adele and Taylor Swift.
Meanwhile, the Secret Sisters’ summer tour rolls on, with the band crisscrossing the Midwest and East Coast until late October.