Home > News & Reviews > Brothers Osborne

Brothers Osborne - Port Saint Joe (Album Review)

Wednesday, 02 May 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

In its purest (some would say most noble) form, artistic expression presents us with an undiluted, singular vision. Alas, whether it’s record company meddling, meeting fan expectations, satisfying commercial trends or striving to make a living, it’s hard for musicians to adopt this idealistic approach while dealing with real world pressures. Hailing from Deale in Maryland, the Brothers Osborne have certainly given it a good, albeit flawed, go on this follow up to 2016’s ‘Pawn Shop’.  

Mixing traditional blue collar country with rootsy genre-hopping sojourns, their debut effort showcased a burgeoning musical identity rich with salt-of-the-earth authenticity. Yet the presence of hollow bro-country clichés (girls in cut-off jeans) sometimes undermined their credentials, eliciting the feeling that concessions had been made in the name of radio airplay. And that’s something the more eclectic ‘Port Saint Joe’ would seem to validate.

Having decamped to producer Jay Joyce’s Floridian beach house to record this album, T.J and John Osborne were cut off from Nashville’s more unhealthy influences.

From the moment gentle waves usher in Slow Your Roll, it’s clear that the change of scenery allowed them to relax and make a sprawling sophomore effort more consistently reflective of their broad sound and expansive skillset.

Shoot Me Straight and Drank Like Hank are bluesy southern rock stompers, with the former serving up a dazzling three minute jam band coda that channels the spirit of their live shows. Either side of a funky and soulful breakdown, John’s sizzling guitar solo is as impeccably constructed as it spontaneous, climaxing with the kind of lightning arpeggio run you might expect from an ‘80s shredder.

There’s a valid argument to be made that this record, no doubt influenced by where it was cut, is too laid back and needs more of those moments. That said, it’s hard not to love sun-kissed charmers like I Don’t Remember Me (Before You), not to mention the mandolin waltz of Tequila Again, A Couple Of Wrongs Makin’ It Alright’s fiesta of New Orleans funk and the trippy soul psychedelia of A Little Bit of Trouble.

Some may find the Brothers hard to peg, but their ability to jump all over the Americana map, while underpinning such travels with musicianship that, regardless of style, boasts a distinctive character, makes them a great modern country band.

John’s guitar is more to the fore on ‘Port Saint Joe’ and his rhythmic work – in tandem with bassist Pete Sternberg and drummer Adam Box – gives each song a powerful, idiosyncratic groove. The music’s emotional heartbeat, meanwhile, comes from T.J. Gifted with the perfect voice for country, his baritone sounds like it’s been coated in liquor and sawdust as he either croons with a husky soulfulness or bellows like a grizzled biker.

If there’s a problem here it’s that, in spite of claims they’ve put everything of themselves into this record, most lyrics don’t sound overly personal and often default to generic tropes. Songs about drinking and chilling out, for example, could have been penned by any country songsmith. Likewise, referencing Hank Williams, as well as Willie Nelson in the context of weed, has been done to death and is unnecessarily reverential for a duo who, courtesy of colourful interviews and Twitter posts, are known for speaking out on a variety of social issues with a refreshing, uncensored candour.

The Brothers Osborne definitely have it in them to make a classic album and ‘Port Saint Joe’ is a crucial step towards such an achievement. Once they spread their lyrical wings in a way that matches their musical ones, and deliver forward thinking storytelling that really captures the essence of their spirited character, this band will truly fly.

Brothers Osborne Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 04 2018 - DUBLIN Academy
Sat May 05 2018 - BELFAST Limelight
Mon May 07 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Tue May 08 2018 - BRIGHTON Brighton Concorde 2
Wed May 09 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Fri May 11 2018 - LONDON KOKO
Sat May 12 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun May 13 2018 - GLASGOW O2 ABC

Click here to compare & buy Brothers Osborne Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

You May Also Like:

Life In A Whirlwind: Mt. Joy Discuss Their Startling Rise
Wed 15 Aug 2018
Until a certain streaming service turned their lifelong musical fantasies into a reality, the members of folky Americana quintet Mt. Joy were on a very different path indeed. To retool an old saying, life as they know it happened while they were busy living other best laid plans.
From Blues Boy To Next Big Thing: The Making of Dan Owen
Thu 23 Aug 2018
It’s easy to question the authenticity of any young musician who stirs up a super-sized buzz. Are they merely a record company’s latest marionette? Yet another superficial media darling destined for 15 minutes of fame? Dan Owen certainly generated significant plaudits before his debut album, ‘Stay Awake With Me’, had even been released, but the finished product revealed a special singer-songwriter who, after years of grafting for his shot at the big time, is being lauded for all the right reasons.
Living Their Best Lives: Idles' Joe Talbot Talks Their New Album 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance'
Thu 30 Aug 2018
Crackling through a speakerphone, Joe Talbot’s voice is calm and level. “I don’t feel any pressure to do anything,” he says. “It’s up to me. I genuinely don’t care what anyone else makes of what I do. It’s up to me to be as honest to myself, and truthful to the band and our art, as possible. The rest is up to you.”
It All Starts With The Song: The Beating Heart Of Country Star Brent Cobb
Fri 31 Aug 2018
Photo: Don VanCleave It may sound like wishful thinking, but in an ideal world music would begin and end with nothing but a great song. There’d be no record companies or publications trying to shape our tastes. Image would be unimportant. Sales irrelevant. Radio airplay redundant. The only thing that would matter would be the creativity of the musician and how they reflect themselves through their art.
Never Bored: Ugly-Pop Band Skating Polly Discuss Life On Tour
Mon 10 Sep 2018
Wanderlust is a word usually associated with gap years and middle aged people who want a fancy way of saying they’re bored with the life they’ve made for themselves.
New Soul Legends UK Dates Announced Featuring Lemar
Mon 13 Aug 2018
A new batch of Soul Legend dates featuring Lemar have been announced.
Wild Nothing - Indigo (Album Review)
Fri 31 Aug 2018
‘Indigo’ is the fourth album from L.A.-based dream pop troubadour Jack Tatum as Wild Nothing and it comprises 11 skilfully written tracks that directly ape ‘70s and ‘80s British art rock - in particular Roxy Music.
Dan Owen - Stay Awake With Me (Album Review)
Thu 30 Aug 2018
Courtesy of a period that saw commercially-minded, and often painfully bland, singer-songwriters dominating the airwaves, the very label is enough to inspire a healthy amount of cynicism these days. But Dan Owen’s debut album is a stellar example of how the genre can, in the right hands, be both radio friendly and artistically satisfying.
< Prev   Next >