Album Spotlight: Brothers Osborne, ‘Pawn Shop’
Brothers Osborne present a grungy mix of traditional country and country-rock songs on their debut album Pawn Shop. The 11-song project has Jay Joyce’s fingerprints all over it, but what stands out most is singer TJ Osborne’s coarse, sandpaper vocals.
His unique timber forms a foreboding, if satisfying entryway to enjoying songs like “Dirt Rich” and its sister song “Pawn Shop.” Both are built in the vein of “Rum,” the duo’s Top 30 hit from 2015 — all of them could be a blend that a certain country fan just doesn’t care for. One figures the Bros are fine with that. They’re not aiming to placate the masses, but to thrill a select audience. This album will do that.
On “Loving Me Back,” a collaboration with Lee Ann Womack, TJ hardly softens to match a sparse arrangement. Thematically Pawn Shop relies on feel-good breaks from a blue collar reality, that blue collar reality and love. They’ve carved a unique groove to run their thick, muscular, blues-soaked rhythms through. There is nothing unoriginal about this album.
“Stay a Little Longer” remains the highlight. It’s where John Osborne gets his best chance to shred. With an extended solo, the album version checks in at over 5:30, one minute longer than anything else on the project.
“Greener Pastures” is the second most ear-pleasing song. The country swinger was co-written by good friend Maren Morris, and it feels like something their good friend Kacey Musgraves could have included on Pageant Material. This would be a bold choice for a follow-up to “Stay a Little Longer,” but if TJ and John are downright crazy they’ll test country music’s recent infatuation with a traditional sound and release the Womack duet. It’s going to be a fan favorite, but it might be too much too soon for a duo that’s still trying to break.
Key Tracks: “Stay a Little Longer,” “Loving Me Back,” “Greener Pastures”
Did You Know?: TJ and John Osborne co-wrote all songs on Pawn Shop except for one. “Heart Shaped Locked” was written by TJ, Lisa Carver and Andi Zack.
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