The Earl Brothers

THE EARL BROTHERS
Big Hen Music
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One thing the Earl Brothers had going for them on their previous (2006) release was their dedication to the stark musical sound and stark world view offered by the traditional bands of the ’40s and ’50s, and that dedication hasn’t changed with this album. The Stanley Brothers, circa their time on WCYB in Bristol, come instantly to mind when this disc plays. Several of the tracks here sound as if they could have come from those long ago sessions—almost.

Banjoist Robert Earl Davis, who wrote and sings lead on 11 of the 12 songs, has a different vocal sound than Carter or Ralph. There’s more of Dwight Yoakam in his sound and delivery. “Walk In The Light,” a gospel number in 3/4 time, comes the closest to the Stanley sound of that time. Tremelo mandolin from Larry Hughes starts and the song lopes easily into lyrics written in that older, declaritive, firstperson style. “Troubles” and “Going Back Home” (also both in 3/4 time), “Cold And Lonesome,” and the modal “Thinking Of You” are also fine, wellcrafted songs that match well with songs of that period.

What has changed most about the band since that first recording is the confidence in which it is presented. The band has tightened its chops, and Davis has honed his singing and songwriting. The solos of fiddler Tom Lucas and banjoist Davis remain basic and have an ensemble quality about them. When the band now offers their music, they’re no longer searching for technique and feeling. They’ve found it. (Earl Brothers, 72 Belcher St., San Francisco, CA 94114, www.earlbrothers.com.) BW