Stockholm’s a long way from Folsom Prison, a fact that hasn’t escaped First Aid Kit. The Lion’s Roar, the Swedish duo’s sharp, sepia-toned sophomore album, bridges that gap with “Emmylou,” an homage to Ms. Harris that makes the ultimate offer for lovers of Woodstock-era country: “I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June/ if you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny, too,” sisters Klara and Johanna SÃ¶derberg pledge. As it turns out, though, they’re not looking for leading men: “No, I’m not asking much of you/ just sing, little darling, sing with me.”
The Lion’s Roar is a record of romantic pragmatism and bold orchestration. Producer Mike Mogis (notable mainly for his work with Bright Eyes, whose Conor Oberst appears briefly here on “King of the World”) helps clothe the naked twang of the band’s debut with light-handed percussion, pedal steel, strings and rippling pianos, keeping the spotlight brightly on the SÃ¶derberg’s familial harmonies. A Neko Case-like minor-key gloom rolls in on the title track and “I Found a Way,” among others, but most of the songs stick to the sunshine. Gram and Johnny can rest easy – First Aid Kit can take it from here.