Relative newcomers The Brothers and The Sisters launch their debut album (a self-titled affair) this Saturday with a free show at Northside’s Mayday. The Guitars (who share drummer Matt Ayers with the headliners), 20th Century Tokyo Princess and Frontier Folk Nebraska also perform.
The seven-piece band features singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell, whose work with The Light Wires and The Great Depression proved him to be one of the most soulful writers in the Folk/Roots arena. The songs are similar but presented in a different setting — instead of electric instruments or a stark acoustic-duo format, The Brothers and The Sisters feature banjo, acoustic guitars and dobro (and drums and bass). Pinnell’s words mine a lyrical vein as old as the genre (think Leadbelly), with songs about love, pain, regret, death and drugs/booze, but his aching rasp gives them an old-soul authenticity that can’t be faked.
Pinnell has found beautiful counterbalance in co-lead singer Evangeline Bauerle, whose radiant, Emmylou-like harmonies shadow his melancholy voice on every track like a ray of hope, creating a magnetic dichotomy. There’s still an unavoidable streak of fatalism running through the album — the only trace of optimism is “Big Bright World” (“I’m a lucky one in this big bright world/ I’m a lucky one when I’m holding you, girl”), but appropriately it's still a song about dying and being buried in an “unmarked grave.” Redemption and peace for the narrator only comes once his life is over.
Haunting and haunted, The Brothers and The Sisters’ debut is darkly stirring and, musically, the band creates a fitting backdrop, replicating the vocalized anguish with slow, sorrowful sonics and pacing. If you’re in need of a musical mood pick-me-up, look elsewhere. If you appreciate music that bleeds true emotion and cuts to the bone, look no further. Hear their music: www.myspace.com/thebrothersandthesisters
(Check out performance times for the free show and get venue details here.)