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Indigo Girls

Indigo Girls
Twenty years into the Indigo Girls' recording career, it's easy for fans to take them for granted. Every few years the sugar-and-salt duo of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray puts out an album of charming folk-pop that musically either strips down or gussies up beneath the pair's enduring harmonies. ``Despite Our Differences ," the Georgia duo's 11th original recording, splits those stylistic differences and comes up mostly with another winner. It opens as previous albums have, with Saliers taking a poetic songbird flight in support of women -- in this case, politically minded ones, on "Pendulum Swinger " -- and Ray leavening her prickly, punky energies with catchy hooks and country-rock flourishes, on ``Little Perennials ." So far, so familiar, and entirely pleasant. Then producer Mitchell Froom pushes the pair to branch out in ways big and small. The results include experiments that work well -- Ray's power-pop war cry "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate ," featuring Pink -- and others that don't -- Saliers's clever but labored car-wreck-as-romance-metaphor song "All the Way ." Elsewhere, Saliers's piano ballad ``Fly Away " is a nice stretch into Carole King territory, and "Lay My Head Down " employs the little curlicues of melody for which she's become known in a more rock-centric environment. As the title implies, "Despite" highlights the singer-songwriters' points of diversion but also reaffirms what they do so well together. Indigo Girls play the Orpheum Theatre on Monday.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: ``Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate"


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