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Harmonies and Highs: A Deep Dive into the Twins of Franklin’s New Album

The Twins of Franklin with Kevin Bowe

Last updated on May 23rd, 2024 at 09:45 pm

In the heart of the Twin Cities music scene, a “twin” pair of singers share a bond that transcends melodies, stories, and time. For The Twins of Franklin, led by Becky Shaheen and Laura Lou, the journey behind their latest album is not just a collection of songs but a testament to 15 years of friendship, family, and musical exploration. 

The Twins of Franklin inside The Kill Room

As I sat down with the dynamic duo inside the Kill Room recording studio, where their newest album, This Life, was recorded, we reminisced about their musical journey, their shift to folk, and the contributions of acclaimed producer Kevin Bowe (Johnny Lang, The Replacements, Etta James, Communist Daughter). With the addition of Bowe’s unique perspective on what makes the bond between Shaheen and Lou so special, we dove into the genesis of their 15-year musical friendship. 

Shaheen recalls the first time they sang together on the same stage, in the jazz gospel group at Augsburg College, Gospel Praise. Lou’s eyes lit up as she remembered transferring from the U of MN and the late, great Bob Stacke urging her to audition for the group. 

The Twins of Franklin inside The Kill Room

“I had already heard about Becky because we had already been in choir together. I was like, well, Becky’s in it and I know she’s good because everybody talks about how she’s famous at Augsburg. I got in and then we started going to churches and singing their Sunday morning services.”

That journey from college harmonies to the creation of The Twins of Franklin was marked by a few pivotal moments and unwavering determination. Fueled by encouraging professors and the enriching performances at college, Lou wanted to keep performing, go on tours, and became obsessed with exploring music more. With Shaheen already in the thick of composing, performing, and getting asked to sing everywhere, Lou wanted her involved. 

But Shaheen took a break from ‘band life’ after graduation, focusing on her own music. Lou forged forward with the band Laura Lou and the Loungeabouts. Lou continued to ask and, at one point, got a direct response from Shaheen, “I do not want to be in a folk band with you.” Eventually, Lou convinced Shaheen to get back into the scene, and – spoiler alert – now they’re in a folk band together. Bowe sheds light on their dynamic and the essence of their musical journey.

The Twins of Franklin

“I think I have a pretty good outside perspective. Becky is someone who inspires you. She’s a leader. So you see her from the outside and you’re like, she’s smart, she looks like she knows where she’s going and I’ll follow her. And then Laura is someone who’s just really hard to say no to. To me, that’s how this works. Those are two very, very good qualities. If you want to move ahead with anything hard – art is hard, music is hard – you have to have some crazy motivator.”

Amidst the evolution of their musical journey, motherhood became a transformative chapter for both musicians, shaping not only their subject matter but also part of their creative processes. Shaheen even admits she’s less busy now because she was very overbooked before having kids. 

Particularly in regards to this album, both confess how easily the main songs about parenthood just floated out. The subject matter was effortless to speak into words, finding their personal and unique voice. A whole light bulb of inspiration came from those experiences with an entirely new lease on life and a new kind of love. 

The Twins of Franklin

Their 2020 album LOW was a funky collection of songs showcasing many variations of tastes and vocal abilities. As the pandemic unfolded, they solidified as a four-piece band and found Joe Shaheen (bass) and Brian Riedinger (drums) locking in tightly as their own set of twins.

The evolution of their sound on This Life, marked by the release of the single “To the Moon,” signified a shift towards Americana folk, guided by the collaborative vision of the two frontwomen and Bowe. He highlights the intuitive understanding and shared vision that propelled the creative process forward, acknowledging there’s no “freshness date” on it because it doesn’t sound like everything that’s on the radio. Instead, there are Laurel Canyon vibes and Sly & The Family Stone’s super warm 70’s tones underneath. 

“It’s kind of inspiring to be around people that are this good of friends and have this history. There’s love in the room, you know what I mean? Also the relationship with your dad had a huge influence on the mood and the vibe in the room while you’re making the music. You can make some cool indie rock or pop stuff with sonic trickery, but that music lives by artifice. But with this kind of music, the only thing that’s going to get it over is writing and singing. That’s why this record is good because they write great songs and they can sing them with these tight harmonies, it might as well be a sister act.”

The Twins of Franklin

This Life promises a sonic journey unlike any other, blending introspective ballads with vibrant, soul-stirring melodies. “To The Moon” and “Look at All This Life” open up the album, followed by “The Wait,” which holds the heaviest subject matter. “Stay” is another emotional pillar with heartfelt melodies evoking The Stylistics 70’s R&B. Tucked in are faithful love gems like “Worry” and “Stuck Inside,” which describe life-defining chapters in relationships. 

This Life carries big, fun rock and roll songs that bookend the album, but the holistic journey is a cohesive indulgence of harmonies that will captivate listeners. It’s a testament to friendship, finding creativity, and the enduring power of music that has bonded the band together. 

Dropping on May 17th, This Life lives up to the spirit of a vinyl release. The close-knit nature of the band feels destined to be carved into the grooves of our soundtracks in physical form. The official release party on May 31st will have special guest Lucy Michelle opening, and the expanded band will include Stefan Swanson on electric guitar and Aaron Rosell on keys, with Kevin Bowe as the MC. 

“I can’t wait to be an 85-year-old woman listening to this vinyl and being like, oh, Laura, this album has stood the test of time. And I know that will happen,” beams Becky.

Order This Life Get tickets to IcehouseThe Twins of Franklin Website

Written by Smouse

Having spent 13 years recording and producing Minnesota artists, along with running a small record label, Smouse is a passionate advocate of musicians and artists in Minnesota.


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