Review: Country duo Brothers Osborne shine on debut album

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Posted: Jan 15, 2016 2:15 PM
Review: Country duo Brothers Osborne shine on debut album

Brothers Osborne, "Pawn Shop" (EMI Nashville)

Brothers Osborne open their first full-length album, "Pawn Shop," with the slinky sting of John Osborne's slide guitar set against younger brother T.J. Osborne's sinewy baritone, which finds a slow-rolling rhythm of its own.

Right off, on the song "Dirt Rich," the duo from the working-class coast of Maryland establishes a slyly funky style of their own. Working with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Little Big Town), the brothers create a distinctive sound rooted in bluesy country soul yet wholly modern and engaging.

The two previously released a five-song EP and achieved a Top 5 hit last year with Grammy-nominated "Stay a Little Longer," included here. So is "Rum," the catchiest drinking song of recent vintage, and "It Ain't My Fault," as clever as any night-gone-wild tune that country music has offered since the heyday of Alan Jackson and Toby Keith.

The songs rely heavily on lighthearted wordplay, with a few exceptions. The low point comes wrapped in the shallow clich├ęs of "American Crazy," which can't be saved by T.J.'s passionate performance. However, "Loving Me Back," a powerful duet with Lee Ann Womack, suggests that there's plenty to come from these admirable country upstarts.