T.J. and John Osborne, better known together as the country duo Brothers Osborne, released their long-awaited third studio album Skeletons this Friday, and have once again delivered an upbeat, electric guitar-driven project that continues to showcase their skills as underrated songwriters. They explore themes of love and loss and classic country tropes such as staying out all night and living life to the fullest. The Nashville-based brothers manage to do this all while staying true to their sound and continuing to develop the genre of country music.
Skeletons, certainly more than the brothers’ previous albums, has more of a rock feel to it, and the first song, “Lighten Up,” lets the listener know right away. While it starts out with simple drums and even an acoustic guitar, the track eventually gives way to gritty electric guitar riffs and solos not often heard in modern country music. Coupled with lyrics like “Maybe everybody could lighten up / When the road gets a little rough, give a little love / And out your lighters in the air then light ’em up,” “Lighten Up” starts the brothers’ new album off with a bang.
“I’m Not For Everyone” is one of the more introspective songs from the Maryland-born duo, and to conclude the chorus, T.J., the lead vocalist, sings, “I’m a bad joke at the wrong time / Hell, I’m a legend in my own mind / I’m good for some, but I’m not for everyone.” While it is not as fast-paced and energetic as “Lighten Up” or “All Night,” it is equally catchy and has a full-sounding chorus that even features a violin.
The lyrics of “Hatin’ Somebody” are almost certainly a response to the social unrest that the country has endured for months. The chorus proclaims, “It’s a bad seed to sow, it’s a dead-end road when you go there / Makin’ any headway that way ain’t got no prayer / Hatin’ somebody ain’t never got nobody nowhere.” While this isn’t a new theme in country music, the two brothers deliver it in such a way that demonstrates how aware they—and the rest of the music industry—are of social issues, and the impact they can have on them.
“Back On The Bottle” and “High Note” both explore failed relationships, but deal with them in two very different ways. “Back On The Bottle” finds the speaker returning to his old ways after his lover leaves him and he realizes “all [his] reasons for not drinkin’ are gone.” This track also features multiple tempo changes, strong, driving electric guitars, and snippets of piano. On the other hand, “High Note” is one of the slower songs on the album, and it finds two lovers wanting to leave their relationship on a “high note.” At the end of the chorus, when T.J. sings “Let’s say goodbye, say goodbye on a high note,” he ends the line on a melodically high note. Although he is known for his deep, soulful voice, it is on “High Note” that he particularly showcases his impressive vocal range and leaves the listener wondering what else he and his brother may be saving for the rest of the album and future projects.
“Old Man’s Boots” is another slower song from Skeletons, and it is an ode to the narrator’s father’s old boots. The chorus culminates with “And I’d be lucky, I’d be lucky to walk a mile in my old man’s boots.” The lyrics are classically country, a simple tribute to good ole fashioned hard work. Soft drums and two acoustic guitars take center stage, and in prototypical Brothers Osborne style, provide a brief but contemplative guitar solo.
“Make It A Good One” is another introspective and reflective track from the album. It calls to mind the classic country theme of living life to the fullest, but just as the Brothers have done throughout the rest of their newest project, they deliver the idea in a unique and sincere way. With quiet verses, and fuller choruses consisting of electric and slide guitars and unembellished drums, the message at the end chorus hits home: “Life goes by 90 miles a minute / If you blink once, you might just miss it / It’s a hold on tight, carnival ride around the sun / Before the day is gone, make it a good one.”
Skeletons by Brothers Osborne, the third album from the country duo, is not short on gritty and driving electric guitars and solos, but what will surprise the more casual fans of both country music and Brothers Osborne is the lyrical prowess of the two brothers. They pair easy rhymes and catchy melodies with pensive lyrics. On Skeletons, Brothers Osborne make no bones about their views on social issues and who they are as people and musicians, all while staying true to their own type of rock-infused country music.
Featured image courtesy of EMI Nashville