THE LOST BROTHERS The Passing Of The Night (Lojinx)
SICK of Irish bands espousing Americana and claiming to be in touch with the spirit of Hank Williams, it's reassuring to discover that the duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland have nailed it.
Instead of huffing and puffing, these guys went to the source. Following a positive response to their debut collection, So Long John Fante, the (not really) brothers took themselves to Nashville to record in an old Music City studio with the redoubtable Brendan Benson.
It was luck that brought them in touch with Benson, who'd heard them supporting on some of his Irish shows. But it was an inspired move to tap into the musicians Benson could call up to work the sessions that resulted in this album.
Five years together has made The Lost Brothers a formidable, if undemonstrative, outfit. They've got a few crucial things going for them. For starters, their voices work together in harmony with much the same ease as The Everly Brothers, who influenced the harmonies of Lennon and McCartney.
No wonder, then, that a hint of the Fab Four can be detected in Tumbling Line.
While their influences are firmly rooted in the past, The Lost Brothers also sound timeless. That's probably because they share similar musical tastes and backgrounds with people ranging from Bob Dylan to young turk Willy Mason, whose work is echoed in the tightly played Send Me Off To Sleep.
It's fun hearing how their songs fit into the landscape of the American tradition. Opening song Not Now Warden could be related to Merle Haggard's Sing Me Back Home. Widow Maker works a narrative in the manner of Tom Dooley. What sounds like a saw plays a spooky solo worthy of the Handsome Family on the waltz Blue Moon in September.
When the folks who administer Roy Orbison's estate suggested the Irish boys tackle his Hey Miss Fanny they couldn't have expected the jolly knees-up with added pedal steel guitar that kicked party life into this set.