✰✰✰ ½ stars
Producer: Jay Joyce (2 tracks produced by Brothers Osborne and Brad Hill)
By: Country Critic Dave Leary
Mainstream country music is in a state of flux right now. The “bro-country” backlash has led to the trend starting to fade in favor of an EDM and R & B influenced sound by artists like Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett and even Zac Brown Band. However, the tide seems to be turning a bit, in part because of the success of Chris Stapleton (with little radio airplay).
Brothers Osborne recently released their first full-length album, Pawn Shop, 16 months after their self-titled EP came out. They co-wrote all 11 tracks on it. The Maryland duo has already toured with Eric Church and Darius Rucker. It’s been a slow but steady climb but they’ve already scored a Grammy nomination and a #1 single.
The intro of the opening track “Dirt Rich” with its slide guitar, lets you know where the album is going. It has a nice groove and the lyrics give a different spin on the “we may not have much but we have enough” theme that many country songs have done before. “21 Summer” is about another common topic, a first love, but TJ Osborne’s vocals and the production make it work. “Stay a Little Longer’, which recently hit #1 at country radio, sounds like a bro-country track at first but there’s more substance there. I don’t really like the production on the chorus here, but I appreciate that there’s more of John Osborne’s awesome guitar solo. This version runs 5 and a half minutes, about 2 minutes more than the radio edit.
To me, the best song on the record is “Loving Me Back” with Lee Ann Womack singing harmony on the chorus. It’s in the classic country tradition and TJ and Lee Ann’s voices blend very well. Other highlights are “Rum”, “It Ain’t My Fault” and the title track.
The only song that fell flat for me was “American Crazy”. It felt a lot like Toby Keith’s “American Ride” or “Drunk Americans”. The writing just seemed lazy on this one.
This album isn’t classic country in the style of George Strait or Alan Jackson but definitely has more of a country sound than most of what’s in the mainstream. TJ’s voice reminds me of Josh Turner, and John deserves to be mentioned with the other top guitarists in Nashville. I look forward to hearing what they do in the future.
01. Dirt Rich
02. 21 Summer
03. Stay A Little Longer
04. Pawn Shop
06. Loving Me Back
07. American Crazy
08. Greener Pastures
09. Down Home
10. Heart Shaped Locket
11. It Ain’t My Fault