Don’t Tell Brothers Osborne to Shut Up and Sing
Brothers Osborne walk a fine line between speaking and preaching on social media. TJ and John Osborne stay just left of the pulpit, and they understand that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram work best as two-sided conversations.
Their goal, they tell Taste of Country, is to offer a voice for people who need one. Sure, they take sides (TJ went on record asking for continued conversations about gun control in a New York Times interview published this week), but you'll never find them shouting.
The forever-chill, but hardly dispassionate brothers speak, tweet and sing with the tone of a defining line from their new Port Saint Joe album: "Can you almost taste it / Light one up and take it / Down and notch and pop a top and / Calm your country ass down," TJ sings with signature swagger in the bridge of the album-opening track, "Slow Your Roll."
Here is a sampling of about 20 tweets Bros have sent since January 1:
"I feel like our fans want us to say something, want us to speak for them," younger brother TJ (33) tells Taste of Country. "Some of them probably don’t, but you know ultimately there are some things where I do feel it feels like if I stay quiet in this time where something is very clearly wrong, then it feels like I’m a bit of a sellout."
"Also, there was a time where artists were the voice, right?" John Osborne (35) furthers. "They were the ones that were willing to push the boundaries. They were the ones will to say things that maybe should not have been said. And somewhere along the way we lost it."
The ACM Vocal Duo of the Year's new Port Saint Joe album stays clear of social messages, although the final song "While You Still Can" became something more than music when the brothers performed it on the Bobby Bones Show days after the October 1 Route 91 shooting. During that heavy moment, it all changed.
“The show we played after Route 91," TJ recalls, "we did a meet and greet and there were about 30 people that came through the line to meet us and John and I both were almost fighting back tears because we thought, ‘It could have been you,’ ... It was just really emotional. I think it really bonded us."
"Cause everything you thought would last forever / Never lasts forever like you planned / Don't let your now become your never / So take life by the hand / While you still can."
The 11 songs are sharper and more refined than Pawn Shop, the duo's 2016 debut album that produced hits with "Stay a Little Longer" and "It Ain't My Fault." Port Saint Joe is a dynamic album that finds lead guitarist John every bit the equal to TJ, with lyrical riffs that add a second, distinguished voice. Yep, both men have a voice — you get a sense the "Shoot Me Straight" singers wouldn't have it any other way.
"People are very polar in what they watch and the information they take in, so there’s a lot of confusion right now as to who to listen to," John says. "And I think it’s the perfect time for artists to speak up. This is our time, this is our calling. We’re the people with the voice. So you can tell us to ‘Shut up and sing,’ but that’s not our duty. Our duty is to write songs for people that are feeling something and don’t know how to express it. Our job is to make people feel something and it also is becoming our job to speak up for those people.”
Is the era of "Shut up and sing" dead?
“We laugh about that all the time, because it’s physically impossible to shut up and sing at the same time," TJ jokes. "It's like sit down and walk," his older brother points out.
Port Saint Joe will be released on April 20. This summer look for Brothers Osborne on Dierks Bentley's Mountain High Tour.
Meet ToC RISER Devin Dawson