New Music to Know: With Brothers Osborne, Less Is Always More

"What we were doing in the studio was, in an effort to make the song sound the best, we were actually subtracting it of all this raw true emotion that may have been out of tune or cracking here.”

By Annie Reuter

Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium went silent midway through the Brothers Osborne song “Stay a Little Longer,” a ballad that talks about connecting with a former flame “one more time.” As real-life brothers TJ and John Osborne neared the edge of the famed stage with their jaw-dropping guitar riffs—on acoustic guitars, no less—one thing was clear, the duo had picked the right song to perform at the Mother Church of Country Music.

Related: Top 10 Musical Moments at the 2015 Country Radio Seminar

As soon as they finished the song, the duo got a standing ovation from the crowd. It was something that was definitely not lost on the band, who described the experience as simply “surreal.”

Witnessing Brothers Osborne live is a unique experience. One minute the guys will have the crowd up and dancing with their own take on an old western called “Shoot From the Hip” and the next they’ll quiet things down with their poignant and heartbreaking new single “Stay A Little Longer.”

John’s guitar prowess and TJ’s gritty singing style keep you entertained, but it’s their innate ability as siblings to riff off one another that drives the show. Some bands need to rehearse any new additions to a song, but with a simple glance, these brothers can change a guitar or vocal solo right there in the moment and make it seem planned. It’s this ability that distinguishes the Brothers from other country acts and what makes their five-track self-titled EP featuring singles “Rum” and “Stay A Little Longer” stand out. They hope to bring this same energy to their forthcoming debut full-length, due out later this year.

“A debut record should be a big, broad look into who we are,” John tells Radio.com. “Since we’ve been writing and playing since we were kids, we’ve been writing these songs for a long time. We wanted to show the world this is who we are. We’re hoping that with our debut record you can listen to it all the way through and hear all of our musical heroes, all of our inspirations.”

Those musical influences are worn on TJ and John’s sleeves quite literally—TJ has a Hank Williams tattoo on his arm while John has a Tom Petty lyric and a Jimi Hendrix quote tattooed on his. The duo also finds inspiration in Merle Haggard and the Allman Brothers Band, but neither of those artists have been honored with a tattoo just yet.

Country fans have gotten a glimpse of these inspirations from Brothers Osborne’s live show, both solo gigs and opening slots with Eric Church and Little Big Town. During a New York date with Little Big Town, TJ introduced their song “Love the Lonely Out of You” by telling the crowd that sometimes the studio recording of a song can take the life out of it. The band actually went back into the studio three times only to eventually realize less can be more.

“In that particular case, we knew we had a song that we liked and the recording didn’t turn out very great. We knew the song had to be on the record,” he asserts. “We went in a third time where we realized the thing that impacted people with it was the vulnerability of it. What we were doing in the studio was, in an effort to make the song sound the best, we were actually subtracting it of all this raw true emotion that may have been out of tune or cracking here.”

So, TJ and John sat down in the studio with their guitars and one mic to share and recorded the song straight to tape, that way they wouldn’t be able to change anything about the recording.

“Even though it’s the most stripped down [song] it’s the hardest one for me to sing,” TJ admits. “I can get even a little bit emotional singing it at times. I get so attached to the song and its honesty and what it evokes in me.”

“Most people assume if you’re a duo you have to be the Everly Brothers,” John adds. “No one can ever be the Everly Brothers. That’s impossible. I’m just naturally a guitar player and he is naturally a gifted singer so ‘Love the Lonely [Out of You]’ is a great window into who we are as Brothers Osborne.”

Brothers Osborne’s latest single “Stay A Little Longer” is out now. They are nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year at 2015’s ACM Awards airing April 19 on CBS.

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