Chapin Sisters: Not Your Father’s Folk

BY Tom LeGro  July 14, 2010 at 11:55 AM EDT

Abigail and Lily Chapin have been singing and performing together since they can remember. Growing up in a family surrounded by musicians, they probably couldn’t help it.Lily and Abigail Chapin

Their father, Tom Chapin, is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter; their uncle, Harry Chapin, was the singer-songwriter famous for “Cat’s in the Cradle”; and their grandfather, Jim Chapin, was a well-known jazz drummer.

Originally a trio with sister Jessica Craven, who’s taking a leave of absence to spend time with her new baby, the Chapin Sisters are known for blending folk, pop and blues into deep, beautiful harmonies, oftentimes with haunting lyrics.

“There’s a sinister tenderness to this L.A. trio’s sad, soft, gorgeous folk,” Paper Magazine noted succinctly. “This is after-dark music that’s meant to creep you out. And it does.”

It’s a mix (dubbed “folk noir” and “neo-prarie”) that’s been gaining attention, as they’re now on a worldwide tour opening up shows and providing backing vocals for “She & Him,” the band featuring actress-singer Zooey Deschanel and guitarist M. Ward.

The Chapin Sisters’ first full-length album, “Lake Bottom,” came out in 2008. This year, they’ve released a five-song EP called “Oh Hear the Wind Blow.” A new album, “Two,” is set for release September 14.

We met the sisters at a recent tour stop at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.:

Here’s the Chapin Sisters performing “Bird Song,” a track from “Oh Hear the Wind Blow.”: