You have to lean in and listen to The Brother Brothers new album Calla Lily. It’s not an album that’s going to blow you away with the power of the songs or guitars cranked up to 11. It’s really more of a 21st century Everly Brothers album, quiet and restrained, yet by the end of these ten songs there’s a realisation of just how much the Moss twins have accomplished merely by keeping things simple.
While allusions to The Everlys are an easy comparison, identical twins Adam and David Moss create a widescreen landscape incorporating a wealth of music, both folk and country. So much so that labels seem to box them in when what they want to do most is avoid easy definition. Listening to ‘The Road Runner Song’ one can hear a bit of Buck Owens in the lyrics, yet there’s also a Cajun lilt leaning into the fiddling of Adam Moss. There’s a folky grace to ‘The Chase’ that reveals how much music from their father’s record collection these two have listened to over the years. Just when you think they can’t do anything else, the cello of David Moss takes the lead on ‘A Poquito Doina’, 51-seconds of classical music that leaves your head spinning.
The gentleness of The Brother Brothers goes a long way. While one would expect something wilder to ‘On the Road Again’, the Moss brothers hit just the right tone. Written before the world went into lockdown, the song illustrates the essential ache of the musician, “Like a deck of cards at a local bar/ I’ve lost a couple faces/ And I think it’s time to get on the road again”. For so many the road is their home, and these days can be incredibly tough.
The Moss brothers trade vocals on ‘Sorrow’ while acoustic guitars build the heartbreak at the centre of the song. “I could sail a wish upon the river/ To float upon the ripples and the waves/ Hoping that someday it might deliver/ Someone to wash my sorrows away”. ‘Circles’ is a song that David Moss wrote, and it recounts a time when he was trying to make sense of a world that didn’t seem to have much meaning. Recounting that particular time he says, “I wrote this song about the year I spent living in Chicago. It’s about the mundanities necessary for survival, and not those rich with inherent meaning. Sometimes, you have to take a job as a bellboy to keep a roof over your head through the winter.”
Throughout Calla Lily the Mosses prove that they have found ways to look at the world that reflects not only their point of view, but one that resonates with many. They have found a way to create moments that aren’t often the moments of cataclysm, but the simpler times, ones that ring true despite their size and scope. Less is more and The Brother Brothers prove that over and over again on Calla Lily.