Brothers Osborne feature a grungy mix of traditional country and country-rock songs on their début album Pawn Shop. The project has Jay Joyce’s fingerprints all over it, but what stands out most is singer TJ Osborne’s coarse, sandpaper vocals. His unique sound forms a foreboding, if satisfying entryway to enjoying songs like “Dirt Rich” and its sister song “Pawn Shop.” Both are built in the vein of “Rum,” the duo’s hit single from last year — all of them could be a blend that a certain country fan just doesn’t care for. One figures the Brothers are fine with that; they’re not aiming to placate the masses, but to thrill a select audience. This album will do that. On “Loving Me Back,” a collaboration with Lee Ann Womack, TJ hardly softens to match a sparse arrangement. Thematically Pawn Shop relies on feel-good breaks from a blue collar reality, that blue collar reality and love. They’ve carved a unique groove to run their thick, muscular, blues-soaked rhythms through. There is nothing unoriginal about this album. “Stay a Little Longer” remains the highlight. It’s where John Osborne gets his best chance to shred. With an extended solo, the album version checks in at over 5:30, one minute longer than anything else on the project. “Greener Pastures” was co-written by good friend Maren Morris, and it feels like something their good friend Kacey Musgraves could have included on Pageant Material. This would be a bold choice for a follow-up to “Stay a Little Longer,” but if TJ and John are downright crazy they’ll test country music’s recent infatuation with a traditional sound and release the Womack duet. It’s going to be a fan favourite, but it might be too much too soon for a duo that’s still trying to break.
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