Secret Sisters Credit: Abraham Rowe

The career of Alabama’s Secret Sisters seemed on the upswing when they dropped their second album Put Your Needle Down (Republic) three years ago, the sweet close-harmony singing of Laura and Lydia Rogers set to catch fire. Instead, their label dropped them, they got tangled up in a lawsuit with a former manager, and they had to file for bankruptcy—Laura was forced to earn her keep more from cleaning homes than from taking the stage. But their talent had advocates like singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, and after she signed on to produce the new You Don’t Own Me Anymore (New West) and a crowd-funding effort covered recording costs, the Secret Sisters have returned, the beauty of their singing undiminished even if their songs sound wearier than ever. The lyrics are so steeped in everyday trials and tribulations—especially romantic betrayal—that they leave little doubt that their record-biz experience was wrenching. Secret Sisters’ mix of twangy folk rock and pop gets its old-fashioned juice from their vocals, which suggest a female analogue to the Everly Brothers, and while a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song” reveals the one-dimensionality of their own tunes, Carlile’s lean, focused production and the way the sisters sell them provide all the allure they could possibly require.   v