Kacy & Clayton Credit: DANE ROY

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When I first heard the music of Saskatchewan cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum, who’ve been performing folk music together as Kacy & Clayton since they were children, I found it a bit too polished; it summoned the spirit of Judy Collins more than Anne Briggs. But something about the duo’s third album, last year’s Strange Country (New West), transformed my initial opinion. There was an earnestness to the songs; it was clear the duo weren’t trying to pretend to be OG folkies, and that self-awareness came through when Anderson sang lyrics such as “Because everything I’m doing has already been done,” in “If You Ask How I’m Keeping.” Kacy & Clayton’s fantastic new release, The Siren’s Song, was recorded with bassist Shuyler Jansen and drummer Mike Silverman girding Linthicum’s guitar and the cousins’ exquisite vocal harmonies, and was produced in Chicago with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who deftly toughens up the combo’s attack; the end result falls somewhere between the sound of Fairport Convention and the Jefferson Airplane. Still, the arrangements would be nothing without Anderson’s stunningly clear and precise singing, which inhabits songs ruminating on loneliness and rejection. As in classic folk material, the themes are universal, but the details are unique to these songs: “Cannery Yard” laments how a stretch of the singer’s neighborhood is scarred by a suicide; withering midtempo folk-rocker “The Light of Day” channels the sadness of a much older woman lamenting a decision not to follow her heart earlier in her life. The artistic growth on The Siren’s Song is impressive and heralds a bright future, but Kacy & Clayton have already earned my attention.   v