Whereas sister-duo Mersi Stone’s self-titled EP was full of exuberant country-pop, Kori Jean and Kelsi Olsen’s sophomore album Who I Am is far more intimate, yet still potent. The pair’s greater emphasis on reflection is evident throughout the seven-song effort written or co-written entirely by the sisters, who blend introspective lyrics with smooth melodies. The Olsens have seen their share of struggles, yet they still navigate tricky emotional terrain with dignity.
The best songwriters always manage to strip away artifice in favor of raw emotion. Ballad “Almost Real”, one of Who I Am‘s standouts, is a haunting rumination on divorce. The swelling chorus aptly sums up the pain and disillusionment left in the wake of the marriage’s demise: “Now the could-have-beens are only never-could-bes.” Kori Jean and Kelsi split the vocals, poignantly voicing resignation and frustration, yet also conveying the inner strength required to move on.
While “Almost Real” couldn’t have been an easy song to write or share, this type of candor should always be appreciated and admired.