Last time we saw the Sterling Sisters (2013's "Best Country Band") at Metro Gallery, Scout Paré-Phillips came across like a superstar on stage. Her operatic soprano, sharply defined features, severe haircut, and general stage presence came together to create a peculiar sense of charisma that was hard to stop watching. When we talked with her, she had just recorded with Jack White, and in September she was featured in one of his videos, so it was no surprise today when we got a press release announcing that she had signed to Dais Records and released a new single titled 'Your Light' and accompanying video. Her solo album, "Heed the Call," is due out in March 2015. We called to chat about her solo career and, inadvertently, discovered that the Sterling Sisters broke up two days ago.
"I had been living in New York and I had to work on my solo stuff and the boys weren't really writing stuff and I was just coming to practice the night before shows and it was a $200 round ticket," Paré-Phillips said by phone. "In reality, for the last year, we didn't write anything new, so George [Cessna] messaged all of us yesterday because it's not really going anywhere."
Cessna, with whom I've drunk now a couple of times, confirmed the breakup: "We were all sort of having issues of staying productive without her being here. It became a thing. We want to keep working on things and have a healthy productive relationship as artists and it got hard."
The singer and guitarist, who recently released a solo project of his own, said that the remainder of the band—minus Paré-Phillips—would continue to play together, but as a different project. "We kind of got stuck with a sound after our early stuff," he said. "Like neo-folk. I like playing rock 'n' roll."
They have a gig opening for Flying Eyes at the Metro gallery on Dec. 10, but not as the Sterling Sisters. "We definitely couldn't keep that up without Scout," Cessna said.
In the meantime, Paré-Phillips, who is also a visual artist, told us about her solo career and her work with Jack White. "It doesn't feel like [I'm on the verge of stardom] to me. It definitely comes very steadily," she said. "Working with Jack [White], yes, it's a huge deal in terms of publicity, but he's a really great person to work for. Glad that it's a punch for me."
She said that the record was supposed to come out around six months ago on a different label, so the new single "doesn't feel fresh for me. . . . It's not the track I really want to headline the album with . . . But I didn't want to hit people over the head with the 'autoharp girl.' [This song] is a more rounded sound for me."
In addition to the autopharp, Paré-Phillips plays the baritone guitar, which acts as a balancing counterpoint to her soprano voice, and is particuarly evident on 'Your Light,' giving the tune an ominous and mournful tone that can also manage to soar. The video (streaming below), as dedicated to high fashion and its distinct visual aesthetic as it is to the song, is definitely evidence of Paré-Phillips' considerable talent and charisma. But, as folks who really dug the way that her ethereal vocals mixed with Cessna and the other boys' rougher side, we're sorry to see the Sterling Sisters go.