Music  |  Features

Brothers Osborne

August 20, 2013  |  10:27am

Hometown: Deale, Md.
For Fans of Kacey Musgraves, Marshall Tucker, Rayland Baxter

A lot of families play music, and many play well: bluegrass dynasties, rock spawn, singer/songwriter progeny. Even Beck, the child of Oscar-winning composer/arranger David Campbell, expands his father’s musical excavations.

For T.J. and John Osborne, working class kids from Deale, Maryland, music didn’t come in formats or flavors. Johnny Cash and George Jones were right at home beside Tom Petty and Bob Seger, even Southern rock or blues, all tangled together like some super-music that didn’t require labels.

“We’d have yard parties,” the deep voiced T.J. recalls, “and everyone’d play. It wasn’t one kind of music or another, it was just what our Dad liked. We never thought about what it was called…”

That freewheeling sense of what’s good stayed with the pair. In Nashville, the multi-instrumental John became sideman, backing people up with a brio that added heft. A year later, T.J. joined him, looking for a solo deal and writing songs.

They fell in with a group of young creatives eschewing marketing constraints. Instead, creative expression drove the oeuvre-blurring crew, which includes Kacey Musgraves, Kree Harrison, Rayland Baxter, to forge music beyond labels.

“A lot of it came out of just playing and writing songs,” confesses John. “Writing what felt right.”

Nothing felt more right than writing with his brother, so Brothers Osborne were born. Like a more aggressive post-Americana guitarslinger/singer duo, a got-to-be-real country act, the pair offers the kind of kinetic chemistry that made Chris and Rich Robinson such a flint strikes rock spark in the Black Crowes.

Though a song like “Let Me Love The Lonely Out of You” has a serious strength of ardor that is steamy and slow, rippling with the bottom of T.J.’s voice—it is the electric fence sizzle of John’s guitar that says, “This music will cut straight into you.” Languid, soulful, bordering on erotic, it comes from that humid place where creativity ferments.

But for all the obvious appeal of the breezy “21 Summer,” it’s the swampy, funky rhythms that fall in lumbering beats on “Rum” that evoke The Band at its ripest—or the harmonies of “Let’s Go There” that suggest the intersection of Marshall Tucker and old school Southern gospel.

“When we’d write songs for other people to cut,” T.J. admits, laughing, “our publisher would say, ‘Yeah, I think you guys should just write for yourselves.’ We were really lucky they recognized we were better doing our music, whatever that is…”

As the singer’s deep voice rumbles down the line, you know he can’t quite tell you what it is. But music fans, especially fans of the blurred lines between old school country, MumfordneersAvettica and Southern rock will know it when they hear it. Hybridizing everything they’ve heard, the Brothers Osborne’s pungency rises.

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