The breeze would blow these songs away. The gentle sound of finger-flesh on guitar strings carries these melancholic tunes like a hobo carries his pack. The Lost Brothers sing of loneliness, nature, impermanence in a weary traveller’s sigh on ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’. Where the diet-folk bands of the 21st century reek of cynicism, ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ is sincere. And where the arenas have alienated the people from the artists, The Lost Brothers could be performing around your campfire.
The 12 songs on ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ are stripped down to the skin. Unprotected by over-production and exposed to the elements, the brothers’ souls are open “For daws to peck at.” On closing track Ballad Of A Lost Brother the lyrics don’t even have the shield of a melody. But the plain-openness of spoken word.
The echoing toms of Where The Shadow Goes are thunderclouds on the horizon. Far away and faint enough to be no threat but charging the atmosphere with electricity. The harmonies throughout ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ rock the cradle built by the Everly Brothers. A gentle motion to soothe the souls of psychos.
This is dawn and dusk music. Where shadows dance rituals and the light changes guard. The instrumental halfway point Reigns Of Ruin illustrates this vividly. The brass section joining the fingerpicked guitar chords towards the song’s coda, the sound of new colours creeping up on the world.
Relaxed, but never mellowed-out, ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’s’ slow pace hits a sweet spot that keeps the music from becoming mere tedious sadness. Instead, where a song like Summer Rain in less capable hands would come across as a now-dulled blade, in The Lost Brothers’ craftsman hands it’s a sharp pang of melancholy. And following track Iron Road’s uptempo beat never veers into the sickeningly jaunty. But rather, it generously gives the hitchhiking listener a lift through an open wilderness.
‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ is bound by neither time nor geography. It’s free as the wind to surf time and space at its leisure. The emotions expressed are timeless facets of the human condition. And the music, though distinctly Americana-influenced, steers clear of the rip-off artist’s ditch. Lilting along in a manner that betrays their Irish heritage.
Many of the folk songs of America are of Irish descent. Just like much of the people. ‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ though is not reclaiming these folk roots for Ireland. But is instead conquering the much more impressive feat of nourishing those roots to evolution. So they don’t become rotted by irrelevance.
The music business tried to eat folk music. Tried to strip it of its raw power so it’s fit for consumption by sensitive palates. The Lost Brothers have smithed an album of rawness. Not a bleeding rawness, but an emotional and expressional rawness.
‘Halfway Towards A Healing’ crawls out of the business’s gaping Hellmouth. And tell its story in songs that would fall apart in the breeze.