Friday, March 11, 2016

The Brothers Brown Journey Along The Dusty Road

Let me throw out a thought for discussion, what makes a family? Really. Is it blood? Is it a lineage that one can trace back generations? How do you define your family?
Can you have more than one family? The family you share at work is made up of different people than the one you have at home. The family that is made up of your closest friends is different than all the others.
I’m a firm believer in Family by Choice. Blood may be thicker than water, but shared experience and those that stick with you through the worst of things make the strongest bonds.
What’s this got to do with the music? Glad you asked. Recently I received an amazing album from a group called The Brothers Brown. I had never heard of them and I shuffled it over into my “To Be Reviewed” pile.
A couple of high profile artists also came across the desk and so the Brothers had to wait a little bit.
I got to tell you, DUSTY ROAD, is a killer album – although it is not strictly blues. In fact, blues is only a small portion of the equation. If you have to label the album, I would put it firmly in the Americana section, which is why this review will be featured on both the Professor Johnny P blog and the Washboard Times blog.
Didn’t know about that one, did you?
Anyway, The Brothers Brown are brothers by choice and shared experience. There are two men, each named Paul Brown (one is a guitarist and the other an organist), each with years of industry experience, and each with a vision of the music they wanted to create.
They had just never met prior to 2014.
When they met, something clicked, and they realized they had a shared dream. And they needed to find a rhythm section that shared that dream.  Enter bassist David Santos and drummer Pete Young and the group was complete.
Four stellar musicians who found the way to create one of the best albums of 2016.
From the first couple of licks you know you’re in the presence of real musicians. Cup Of Tea starts off with some nice Latin rhythms and gives the other instruments openings to find ways to get their turn. It’s evocative and as the lyrics indicate that she has all the ingredients, you wonder if they are actually talking about themselves. It’s a nice understated start and definitely piques the imagination.
The Brothers slow things down right away with Love Sake, the kind of late night song that helps you question everything you’ve ever done or thought. Organist Brown’s keys find jazz inspired ways to hold the song together while guitarist Brown works his magic. This is a stellar song.
The Brothers get into a swinging mood with Sweet Cadillac, another great song where you’re never sure if they are describing a beautiful car or a beautiful woman. Oh hell, we know it’s the beautiful woman, but this sure is a fun song – a perfect summertime cruising number.
Guitarist Brown takes a solid jazzy lead into When All Is Said And Done. Once the lyrics start it comes under the spell of drummer Young and organist Brown. This has the feel of a combo stretching out and jamming with the song, but still having it totally under control.
Things get a little funky with Can’t Outrun The Blues. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there – there is no way to outrun those blues, they will find you. This is a nice bluesy tune that will be showing up on Time From The Blues.
Brown’s guitar leads us into The River, a song with solid county roots. I’m talking the kind of country that’s a close relative to the blues. Once again it is evocative and takes us on a little trip. Rivers have long had a prominent place in literature, poetry, and songs – especially in the United States. This is a song that belongs with some of the best.
By now, we’re about halfway through DUSTY ROAD and it’s very clear to me that the songwriters are finding new ways to tell the stories of America. We’re still a transient country and these songs remind me of the plays of Sam Shepherd – loneliness, dusty motel rooms on the side of a road, family where you find them.
Yeah, you could say I’m pretty well invested in the album by now.
We get funky again with Hurricane, the only song on the album to feature a guest artist, Paul Barrere from Little Feat added some slide guitar to the proceedings. It’s a good strong rocking tune.
The funk continues on Nothin’ But Love, and manages to tell the story with a solid groove. This song would have been at home with any of the soul labels. To me, and maybe it’s just me, but I hear kind of a Boz Scaggs vibe in the song.
There’s a little swing going on with This Old Heart, a light jazzy feel. It could very easily have been a strong blues number or a shouter, but the band keeps it close and tight. It’s a little different feel to it, but very nice.
California starts out nice and quiet, pulling you into the song. It’s got that lost feeling to it – looking for the girl he left, the dreams he had but gave up on. This could be the last shot at redemption, or the end of the road.
Drummer Pete Young takes over the microphone on Drink You Off My Mind, a song that merges country lyrics with some jazzy organ riffs. It’s a cool song and one that could get some airplay on a daring station. I say daring, because I don’t know of many terrestrial stations that have this kind of eclectic mix. However, if you have the CD, you can listen to it anytime you like. I’m going to hit repeat a lot…
The band closes out the CD with the title track Dusty Road, with some funky rhythm work. It may be the most evocative of all the songs – an homage to the road we all have to travel. It’s a good closing song – the sunset disappearing just over the horizon and the stars are coming out behind us. Great job Brothers Brown.
I wish I could send you to The Brothers Brown website to check out their appearances, but as of now, there is no website as this is a side project for the four musicians. They are all busy on their own work, but have said they would love to put together some appearances somewhere. I do know they are planning to tour and that Kenny Gradney from Little Feat will be joining them.

All I can tell you is keep checking back here or the Time For The Blues Facebook page and I will update the information as soon as I know something.
In the meantime, check out DUSTY ROAD, I think you’re going to like it a lot.

 (Pictures provided by representatives of The Brothers Brown. Used by permission.)

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