The Brothers Landreth Round Out A Soulful Finally Friday Live
Friday springs eternal, even in the heat of summer. And this week is especially steamy because it’s almost 100 degrees outside and because the lineup of Finally Friday is fantastic and it is live and in person at the Eastside Bowl in Madison once again. The triple bill features Alabama country soul stalwart Adam Hood, the rockin’ and rollin’ Youngers from PA and Canada’s answer to Little Feat, the Brothers Landreth.
When I first saw Joey and Dave Landreth, plus their crack band, at Music City Roots in the winter of 2013, my review the next day said: “It was an amazing display of instrumental finesse. And then the vocals. Holy cow.” They are Americana with polish, with songs that have just enough pop smarts to remind me of the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates. They were touring at the time on the strength of the fine album Let It Lie, which I believe they regard as their debut recording. Now they’ve arrived with their third disc, the shimmering, emotional Come Morning.
“We were forced to make this record differently because COVID restrictions meant we had to stay in a tight bubble,” writes Joey in his liner notes. Besides the two Winnipeg-based brothers, the bubble included their friend and producer Murray Pulver. “We ended up building these tracks one instrument at a time, with painstaking attention to detail. It wasn’t a chore though, it was a labour of love. We wanted all the sounds to help tell the story. To show the listener who we are through our expression. We obsessed over tones and parts - we recorded, then re-recorded, then scrapped everything and started from scratch.”
Besides the carefully crafted music, we hear the Landreths getting intimate and vulnerable on the lyrical side of things. The longing and regret in “Shame” is palpable and musically rapturous. “What In The World” is a heck of a love song because the singer is as clear about his flaws as about his lover’s gifts. These guys don’t get the attention they deserve I think, but here’s hoping a swing through Nashville and a Saturday night show at the City Winery draws an appreciative crowd. They’re an unforgettable live act.
The Youngers have a name that suggests maybe they’re a brother band too, but not so much. The quartet of Todd Notobartolo (vocals, guitar, lap steel, and mandolin), Randy Krater (vocals, electric and upright bass), Matt Thren (guitar) and Bruce Kissinger (drums) has been making attention-getting old-time rock and roll with country twang for more than twenty years. Whose attention? Well, John Carter Cash who produced their 2008 album Heritage and the late great Cowboy Jack Clement who had them on his radio show. They’ve played the Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm’s barn and DelFest. My pal Martin Anderson over the mountains at WNCW says "The Youngers bring together hard-driving rock, alt-country, and a hint of bluegrass, along with clever, heart-felt lyrics....in other words, they represent the best in Americana today. They're great live, and they're great in the studio."
I thought Adam Hood’s most recent album Somewhere In Between was really impressive when it hit in 2018, so it’s good to hear new music from the in-demand, Alabama-based songwriter. One example is the gorgeous slow-waltzing ballad “Harder Stuff,” sung with blue harmonies by Miranda Lambert. It’s one of several singles out now from the forthcoming Bad Days Better, though with his decade-long career slicing between the best in country music and Americana, one wonders how many bad days he has. Since signing a Nashville publishing deal in 2016 he’s had cuts by Lambert, Little Big Town, Lee Ann Womack and more. And he’s got a voice most male country singers would wish as their own.
Come on out to Eastside Bowl off Gallatin Road just after it crosses Briley Parkway going north. The music starts at noon with The Youngers, followed by Hood (12:45) and the Brothers Landreth at 1:30. And of course it’ll all be on the radio.