Brothers Osborne – Skeletons (Snakefarm)

Brothers Osborne?

More like Brothers Grimm.

Don’t let wildly optimistic opener Lighten Up fool you.

This is brooding, thought-provoking and occasionally tear-jerking country rock at its pessimistic best.

Skeletons Out Of The Closet At Last

Skeletons is a colourful collection of cautionary tales dealing in death, drinking and bitter disappointment.

But the brilliant Brothers know their strengths.

And album number three does downbeat in a style so uplifting it hurts.

All Night’s groovy bassline and throaty gnarl has Stetson-tipping banger written all over it.

Mixing trad country with 80s rock is what the Brothers do best.

And it’s little wonder Skeletons’ lead single soundtracked the early summer for country fans on both sides of the Pond.

Brothers Osborne Not For Everyone

Anthem for the socially distant, I’m Not For Everyone, references Townes Van Zant and Jimi Hendrix during a slow descent towards faux self-loathing.

Elsewhere, the title track trades on one of the finest couplets we’ve heard all year.

‘Got skeletons in your closet/And I got bones to pick with them’ insists TJ Osborne.

It’s the kind of genius wordplay that makes country the canny lyricist’s genre of choice.

And there’s much more where that came from.

John And TJ’s Curve Bawl

The ‘horror country’ of Dead Man’s Curve fuses a twisted melody with some truly frightening sweeps of classic Hammond.

And if Make It A Good One tries to put a brave face on things then TJ’s deadpan delivery stays true to Skeletons’ ubiquitous gloom.

Two-and-half minutes of manic musicianship on Muskrat Greene does, albeit briefly, bring a smile to the face.

But the sobering Hatin’ Somebody and set closer Old Man’s Boots see John and TJ revert to type.

Skeletons: A Fine Body Of Work

There’s an argument that the Brothers could flesh out some of Skeletons’ shorter songs.

Most clock in at less than three-and-a-half minutes as the pace rarely slackens.

But it’s a minor quibble.

Make no bones about it.

Skeletons is the Brothers’ finest body of work to date.