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!

Related News

Music Is Meant To Inspire: How Brothers Osborne Created The Sprawling 'Port Saint Joe'
Fri 04 May 2018
The notion of genre as insular and self-contained is eroding. In a way that reflects our increasingly interconnected global community, exposure to a wider variety of influences means that fewer artists will stick devoutly to one style. Stuffy traditionalists will complain, but on their sophomore record ‘Port Saint Joe’ the Brothers Osborne show exactly why such an eclectic approach can reboot venerable musical forms in a fresh and exciting way.
Brothers Osborne Announce Winter UK Tour
Fri 04 May 2018
Brothers Osborne will head to the UK this winter.
Brothers Osborne Unveil New Single Pushing Up Daisies (Love Alive)
Fri 06 Apr 2018
Brothers Osborne have unveiled a new single.
Technical And Topical: Black Peaks' Guitarist Joe Gosney Discusses 'All That Divides'
Fri 12 Oct 2018
Music critics are often guilty of presenting rock's history as linear. Progressive rock emerged out of pop music and psychedelia in the late 1960s but was ultimately killed off by punk in the late 1970s, so the narrative goes. Punk, with its raw sound and DIY ethic, was also a better vehicle for voicing social and political issues than prog, which was considered more escapist and lyrically concerned with “high culture”.
Standing Out From The Crowd: Introducing Adwaith And Their Debut Album 'Melyn'
Wed 17 Oct 2018
Photo: The Shoot Adwaith have one of the most streamed Welsh language songs of all time, and Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield recently remixed one of their tracks. But there are still way too many people out there who’ve never heard of the Carmarthen trio. Why is that?
Out Of The Shade: Doyle Bramhall II Steps Into The Limelight
Thu 11 Oct 2018
There won’t be many musicians with an address book as impressive as Doyle Bramhall II’s. From Elton John and Roger Waters to Sheryl Crow and Alain Toussaint, not to mention his position as Eric Clapton’s right-hand man for nearly two decades, the Texan born singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer has often been the go-to collaborator for some of the greatest names in the business. Such a role inevitably meant putting his own career on hold, but with the release of ‘Shades’ – his second solo album in two years - he’s finally taking centre stage.
Boygenius: The Badass Supergroup We've All Been Waiting For
Wed 10 Oct 2018
Photo: Lera Pentelute Earlier this summer, three like-minded indie-rock musicians began teasing their fans. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus were pictured together, draped moodily on a sofa. Looking suspiciously like the sleeve image from Crosby, Stills and Nash’s self-titled bow, the word ‘Boygenius’ ran below them, as well as that all-important stamp of approval from Matador Records. Speculation bubbled. Rumours were whispered.
Antarctigo Vespucci Rides Again: Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock Get The Band Back Together
Wed 24 Oct 2018
Photo: Andy De Santis I know Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock are friends. You know Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock are friends. But do Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock know that Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock are friends? “Hey,” Farren says from the stage at Bristol’s Exchange. “If you’re excited for Jeff Rosenstock, let me hear you say...‘CHRIS FARREN!’” When Rosenstock’s guitar packs up mid-set, his attempts to borrow Farren’s are met with silence until a member of his band suggests Tweeting him. Yeah, that’d probably do it, Jeff nods.
< Prev   Next >