Album Review: Brothers Osborne – Skeletons

Brothers Osborne Skeletons album art

Cool looking album cover. I think I’ve heard of them but can’t say for sure.

Let’s give it a shot.

Brothers Osborne.

A country rock group it turns out, and as the name suggests, brothers John and TJ Osborne hold the reigns of this band with TJ on lead vocals and John on guitar backed by other musicians. Natives of Maryland, Brothers Osborne got started just seven years ago with a debut single, shortly after releasing an EP and since then three full length albums including Skeletons, out today.

In full disclosure, prior to this I had no listening experience with Brothers Osborne and a limited trip through (the) country. Concerts remain on hold and the well of new albums hovers just above the bottom as coronavirus delays releases and puts others on hold. So let’s try something new and see what comes of it.

Advertisements

Brothers Osborne Skeletons Album Review

The 12-song nearly 40 minute Skeletons, continues the Brothers Osborne every other year schedule for new records, their last Port Saint Joe reaching #2 on the US country charts. After the first run through of Skeletons, I see no reason why they don’t get their first #1 country album.

Brothers Osborne has fully embraced country rock with Skeletons but retain their country roots as the first half offers some honest rock music with a country influence while the second half pulls more of old school Nashville into their songwriting and the overall tone.

Skeleton opens with a bit of U2 on “Lighten Up” then dives into an almost 70s guitar before heading forward with a really catchy chorus. It’s more rock with country flair rather than the other way around as John Osborne powers out a solid guitar solo. “All Night” will probably become a favorite in country line dancing. It totally grooves as a two-step.

The well-structured “All the Good Ones Are” is one of the best tracks on Skeletons (along with the following two) with some tempo changes and a variety of guitar chords that fills this one out.  “I’m Not for Everyone” is more country with a rock flair and thoroughly enjoyable which transitions nicely into the harder edged title track. Osborne drives “Skeletons” from start to finish on guitar trading country riffs with hard rock producing a bold and often beautiful sound that serves this track well.

I suppose every country album needs a song about imbibing as “Back on the Bottle” sounds done before, Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol” comes to mind, and marks a transition for the album into a more definitive country sound. The softer sounds of “High Note” bring a more adult contemporary feel with a background twang. The quick paced instrumental “Muskrat Green” jams to country sounds as Osborne barely takes a breather and can expect to bring a crowd to its feet if played live.

Advertisements

Skeletons closes out on a country high with the fun, albeit repetitive, “Dead Man’s Curve,” a standard country track in “Make It a Good One,” “Hatin’ Somebody” which TJ Osborne drives vocally with the slide guitar interspersed and finally the sleepy “Old Man’s Boots” which will make the old timers smile but I’d pass after a few times through.

Singer Osborne’s baritone was absolutely made for country singing and at just 36 years, TJ already sounds like a chiseled veteran of the music scene. Meanwhile, guitarist John Osborne rocks out in his own right with an electric  often sounding more like well-defined rocker who handles the fretboard with the best, if not better, than many of today’s heavy hitters.

Admittedly, I am not a country music connoisseur but I understand and appreciate the genre far more than other music styles I reject. As such I fully enjoyed the first half of Skeletons far more than the second half, though, in relation to what constitutes a solid country music album, Skeletons completely fits the bill.

And, thanks to Skeletons, Brothers Osborne won’t be lost on me whenever the concert calendar begins to fill out.

Grade: B

Brothers Osborne Skeletons Track List

  1. Lighten Up
  2. All Night
  3. Al the Good Ones Are
  4. I’m Not for Everyone
  5. Skeletons
  6. Back on the Bottle
  7. High Note
  8. Muskrat Greene
  9. Dead Man’s Curve
  10. Make It a Good One
  11. Hatin’ Somebody
  12. Old Man’s Boots