The Secret Sisters lay out a bluesy, groove-laced rendition of Fiona Apple's "Heavy Balloon" on their new Quicksand EP, a four-song collection that the Alabama-based sibling duo dropped on Friday (July 16).

The Secret Sisters' "Heavy Balloon" is one of two cover songs — both of which are stylistically a little out-of-left-field for the folk-leaning, harmony-driven singer-songwriters — on the EP. The other cover is indie rock act the Strokes' "Someday," from their 2001 album Is This It. Elsewhere, the EP features two originals: the title track and another called "Endless Running Out of Time."

While the Sisters' decision to cover an Apple song might initially feel like the collision of two disparate worlds, bandmates Lydia and Laura Rogers say that they're huge fans of Apple, and tell Consequence of Sound that they "fell hard" for her newest album.

"The angst and emotion wrapped up in her songs seemed timely in the midst of a global pandemic and lockdown," the two point out, adding that they also saw the act of covering "Heavy Balloon" as an opportunity to explore a bit of the musical legacy lying in their own backyard. The Secret Sisters hail from the Muscle Shoals region in northern Alabama, where legends such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter and Etta James once gathered to cut great soul songs at the region's iconic FAME Studios.

"We specifically wanted to channel the spirit of the Shoals into our version of the song," the Secret Sisters explain. "It was our first real foray into paying homage to our hometown and its musical legacy, which challenged and changed us in all the best ways."

Quicksand was recorded at Sundrop Studios in Florence, Ala., where the Secret Sisters worked with producer Ben Tanner.

Much like their rendition of Apple's "Heavy Balloon," the bandmates agree that their Strokes cover spoke to a specific element of their own artistry, even though the original version belongs to a very different stylistic realm. The Secret Sisters describe the indie rock outfit as a personal favorite -- one of their "college-era band obsessions" -- but add that with a little bit of imagination, they were able to put a very different spin on "Someday."

"We felt the best way to interpret this song was to turn it into a dreamy, dark country ballad," they explain. "Our hope was to transform the lyrics from frantic, fun energy into a heavy and moody vibe -- no surprise there."

Prior to releasing Quicksand, the Secret Sisters' most recent output was their Grammy-nominated, Brandi Carlile-produced Saturn Return album, which arrived early in 2020.

Best Country Albums of 2021 - Critic's Pick

There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.

The bar for an EP on this list of the best country albums of 2021 is higher than an LP, but one project did crack the Top 10. Too much music proved to dampen other artist's efforts, although Alan Jackson's first album in years was filled with country music we couldn't turn away from. Where Have You Gone has 21 songs, but somehow no filler.

More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.

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