Album Review: The Lost Brothers – New Songs of Dawn and Dust

By on Thursday, 11th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

As the days of astrological summer slowly decrease in number in our march towards autumn, it makes sense that we would gravitate towards less sunny, more autumnal sounding records. This review describes undoubtedly one of the best of the bunch to have the fortune of coming out this time of year. The Lost Brothers, comprised of Dublin singers and guitarists Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, will be releasing their fourth album ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ later this month on Lojinx Records, and what the songs lack in technological advances, they make up several times over in pure musicianship and heart.

As we all know, singer/songwriters trying to make it with just their voice and a guitar are a dime a dozen. While some of the more famous of them now favour in studio wizardry to make them sound better than if they’d gone without, or their labels want them collaborate with other artists not at all of their ilk (the recent announcement of a producer Martin Garrix / Ed Sheeran collaboration comes to mind), there’s something to be said when all there is to be had on record is a vocal and acoustic guitar playing. When there is nothing to hide behind, the goods have got to be perfect. While ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ isn’t without its faults, it’s pretty damn close.

The more upbeat moments on this album are few and far between. The sweet lilts of ‘Can I Stay With You’ is a good example of what was just described: perfection with their vocals and guitars, and nothing else. The Cajun-flavoured ‘Days Ahead’ appears early on the LP, and its placement practically misleads you to the direction of this album. Mostly instrumental ‘Between the Crow and the Rat’ is a short, less than a minute and a half interlude.

The rest of ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ showcase what McCausland and Leech do best: putting a spotlight on sad stories with their talent for turning these sentimental tales into something beautiful. Previously revealed ‘Gold and Silver’ sounds like a happy song but in actuality, is ruminating on the inevitable passage of time while holding on to love. The harmonies in the brooding ‘Poor Poor Man’ is more gorgeous than it should given its theme: in the song, the pair examine the plight of those who have lost all hope. The story of ‘Derridae’, presumably a temptress who has left behind a trail of broken men in her wake, comes with a warning: “so listen now and hear these words / don’t live your life in constant hurt / the days will pass and you’ll remain / a prisoner of Derridae.”

A particularly poignant standout moment on the album is ‘Soldier’s Song’. It’s a bittersweet story sung from the perspective of an enlisted man, disillusioned by the ambiguity of his vocation (“I was a soldier in that old war / they never told me what I killed for”), the friends he’s lost and the uncertainty of when he will return home to his love. Given the current volatile world situation and the unsettling feeling that war is imminent, it may be a simplistic way of approaching the topic, but the delicate words chosen and the equally delicate delivery taken together are nothing short of magnificent.

Another deceptively simplistic song is ‘Walking Blues’, with its jaunty melody and piano notes. Its sweet message that if love is forever, it doesn’t matter what distance separates two lovers, because one day soon they will be reunited (“these walking blues will carry me back to you in time”) has certainly been used many times in popular song, but somehow in McCausland and Leech’s voices and hands, the sentiment has never sounded truer or more genuine.

While many of the themes on ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ are dark, the songs have been written and recorded in such a tender way that you can’t help but feel a warm glow after listening to them. Whether have a love of your own or you are in love with love itself, this is a collection of tracks from arguably some of Ireland’s finest singer/songwriters that you’d be a fool not to own.

9/10

‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, the Lost Brothers’ fourth album, will be released on Lojinx Records on the 22nd of September. For a free track from the album, go to this previous MP3 of the Day post where you can grab ‘Gold and Silver’ for free.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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