(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Album Review: The Lost Brothers – Halfway Towards a Healing

By on Thursday, 18th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

The Lost Brothers Halfway Towards a Healing album coverRarely is there a pair like folk maestros The Lost Brothers. Despite having met and formed in Liverpool and now being based in Dublin, the influence of Americana on the songwriting of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland is undeniable. Like their 2008 debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’ produced in Portland, the duo returned to the land they are so indebted to. They touched down in Tucson to work with Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb on their latest album. According to the press release for ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, he had some unconventional production techniques. Gelb would pick up the duo in the morning for their day of work, then drop them off in the middle of the desert for a walk, presumably to get their creative juices flowing while being wholly inspired by the desolate environment.

Self-described as their “most forward-thinking record” and displaying “tiny slivers of hope” and less gloom than its predecessors, The Lost Brothers’ latest is a tidy collection of beautiful tunes worthy of inclusion in Leech and McCausland’s growing oeuvre. This album also sees the Lost Brothers collaborating with their friend, tourmate and fellow Irish troubadour Glen Hansard, who cowrote three songs on the LP. One of these, ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’, is a catchy little ditty does its best to describe the wonderment of love. In a span of just over 2 minutes, the song manages to be both tender and droll about the most powerful of human emotions: “Why draw a line through what matters most? / Darling, this love might just kill us both.” Another relatively uptempo number is ‘Cry for a Sparrow’, where the duo use the idea of a bird in flight, either soaring or diving, as a metaphor for the ups and downs of life.

But the slower, more pensive moments are where The Lost Brothers shine here. LP standout ‘Where the Shadows Go’ places you in a land created in the pair’s collective mind. Standing with them on a bluff, you can look over their beautiful domain while a forlorn horn section plays alongside their peerless harmonies. Previously revealed single ‘Echoes in the Wind’, reviewed by me here, brilliantly captures the ephemeral, yet beautiful nature of life.

Later in the tracklisting, the lyrics “I’ll get through somehow / slowing down on a poison ground” in ‘Nothing’s Going to Change Me Now’ seems tailor-made for these difficult times. A lonesome violin accompanies the words of a man jaded by his broken heart. The instrumental ‘Reigns of Ruin’ has a Mexican feel, no doubt a product of the location where they chose to create this record. Closing out the first half of the album if you’re partial to vinyl, it’s a truly evocative moment, transporting you to a different place and a different time. Things are slower here in the land of The Lost Brothers. And that’s quite all right.

The Lost Brothers only recently caught the ears of another songwriter well versed in beautiful vocals and equally beautiful songs, Richard Hawley, who compared their “tender close harmony singing” to that ‘50s legends The Everly Brothers. Given the mastery of their vocal and instrumental gifts, it’s only a matter of time for the rest of the world to catch up with this great Irish songwriting partnership.

8/10

‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, the new album from Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers, is scheduled for release on the 26th of January on Bird Dog Records. Watch the promo video for the title track below. The pair are one of several Irish acts to have been announced for SXSW 2018, taking place 13-18 March in Austin, Texas. Not going to Austin? No problem: catch them on their UK and Irish tour that will start on the 30th of January at London Lexington. To read more of our coverage on TGTF on The Lost Brothers, go here.

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