What possible street cred could there be in a roots-country record sung by three New York-born, Los Angeles-reared sisters and produced by a guy who grew up in Santa Monica? Plenty, when the singers are Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden, the triplet daughters of jazz luminary Charlie Haden, and that producer happens to be Ry Cooder.
It's worth knowing that before the triplets' dad earned his stripes in the jazz world, Charlie spent many years performing country music with his family throughout the Midwest — a history he tapped in his 2008 album, "Rambling Boy," for which Tanya and Rachel were along for the musical ride.
So, no big surprise that his offspring absorbed a fondness for songs they tackle here such as the Carter Family's "Single Girl, Married Girl," the 1955 Kitty Wells hit "Making Believe" and the Louvin Brothers' existentially heartbreaking "When I Stop Dreaming." They're not utterly rooted in old-timey selections, however: They also take on Nick Lowe's sweet "Raining Raining."
Cooder's production is fittingly raw, putting no phony gloss on songs brimming with heart-on-sleeve honesty. Petra Haden has created a cottage industry with multitracked recordings showcasing the versatility of her own voice, but in tandem with her sisters, the vocal lines bring to bear the power of family harmony that's long been an important foundation of traditional country music. The Haden Triplets carry on that tradition marvelously.
The Haden Triplets
"The Haden Triplets"
Third Man Records
Three and a half stars