In the opening title track off Angus and Julia Stone’s latest album, “Snow,” the Australian-born brother-sister duo echo each other’s lyrics line after line to tell the story of two people’s night out together. “Who the hell are we to start this chain again?” Julia sings. “Who the hell are you to break this chain again?” Angus sings back.
Most of the tracks off this indie-folk group’s latest album are intimate and conversational, with the Stone siblings finishing each other’s sentences or presenting different perspectives in the sharing of various anecdotes. In “Make it Out Alive,” each member of the duo offers his or her own version of what happened at a tumultuous party. While Angus has a low, husky voice, Julia has a childlike one, and their respective vocal differences enhance the multiple recountings of the night offered in the track.
The friendly dynamics of each track make “Snow” stand out from Angus and Julia Stone’s other albums. In contrast with their earlier records, “Snow” is the first album the Stone siblings wrote and recorded entirely together. Their first two albums — 2007’s “A Book Like This” and 2010’s “Down the Way” — feature tracks sung by only one sibling and unwritten in collaboration between the duo.
In 2012 — two years after the release of their second album — Angus and Julia Stone split. The two felt a lack of chemistry and closeness between them, and decided to pursue solo careers. For the next two years, Angus and Julia didn’t speak or maintain any form of contact.
At a party in 2014, the famous American producer Rick Rubin heard the sibling duo’s 2010 hit, “Big Jet Plane.” Rubin fell in love with the song and invited the pair to reunite and record together again. With Rubin as their producer, the Stones successfully reconnected to write a third album, “Angus and Julia Stone (Deluxe).”
For the duo’s latest album, “Snow,” Rubin insisted the siblings write in the same room together. The Stones accordingly spent an intimate eight weeks together in Angus’ beachside studio in Byron Bay and wrote the entire album from scratch.
The tracks on “Snow” stay true to the simplistic, dreamy essence of music found on the duo’s earlier three albums. However, siblings’ intensely intimate and unprecedented level of collaboration is evident in each track on the album. All of the songs feature varying levels of vocal layering and creative harmonies.
In “Baudelaire” — a more upbeat, indie-pop track — the Stone siblings sing simultaneously. Angus’s deep, gruff voice harmonizes well with Julia’s light, mellow voice. In the album’s slow and calm final track, “Sylvester Stallone,” the duo literally finish each other’s sentences — after Angus sings, “Let’s take what we need,” and Julia immediately follows with, “And sit in your car.” Each song captures their fresh, rekindled bond and demonstrates their strengthened sense of intimacy.
Fans of the Stone siblings will not be let down by “Snow.” This album proves itself to be worth the three-year-long wait. The lyrics and style of the duo’s fourth album emphasize collaboration, togetherness and harmony — both in a relationship and musical sense. After a long period of being apart, “Snow” proves that Angus and Julia Stone are definitely stronger together.