Beginning with the name, The Bros. Landreth exude a refreshing honesty and transparency with their songs—a skill as rare as it is difficult to perfect. ‘87 sees the brothers resume right where they left off on Let It Lie—writing from the heart and playing as purely as they can. With Joey Landreth on guitar, Dave on bass, and an excellent supporting cast, the music brings to life tales of life, love, and drinking with a sonic backdrop that is as revealing as the lyrics themselves.
Starting with “Something,” The Bros. Landreth take a step away from their last album and add a bit more production to a bouncy number that would be considered “pop,” if it wasn’t for the instrumental grace and restraint. The song leaves listeners wanting just a bit more at certain points due to the irresistibly warm analog feel of the sounds. Crunchy chords open “Good Love” and an individual voice carries the verse before a subtle organ progression and fleshed-out vocal harmonies join. Contrasting the crunch of the rhythm guitar, a fully-fuzzed lead tone cuts through the mix for a brief slide solo.
“Got To Be You,” comes alive with an upbeat slide riff before settling into a laid back mood. It is a solid song, even if it’s not one of the albums strongest. It’s a nice respite before the trio of tunes that follow. “Master Plan” is easy on the ears, but the subject matter can be sobering with its lyrics simultaneously direct and clever. “Shook the bottle. Poured out the rest.”
The first of the best two tracks on the album, “Maryanne” boasts a memorable chorus and gets to it quickly. Singing, “I’ve done too much thinking and it always leads to drinking,” the band raises the stakes with the sparse solo. It is one of the few moments where it would have been nice to hear a little more elaboration. As if proving a point, The Bros. Landreth immediately remind why sometimes “less is more” on “Salvation Bound.” With little more than a perfectly picked acoustic guitar, an aching voice details hard-earned wisdom. Any gaps in the discourse are filled in by a reflective, echoey solo.
“Sleep Talker” comes across with a more aggressive guitar attack and great vocalizations to accompany another curt chorus. Never satisfied with reusing the same sounds, the overdriven lead guitar burns through the mix and fits nicely beside the edgy tone of the tune. “You Just Keep Letting Me Down” and “Is It Me?” feature vocal abilities with individual prowess and harmonies that are tight, but not overly so, allowing them to fully bloom. The swooning slide on “Is It Me?” correctly answers the central question in a textbook example of call and response songwriting, and a measured dose of horns help to conclude the tune.
The Bros. Landreth won the award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year in their first attempt together—‘87 makes it clear why. The band has embraced the traditions of quality songwriting and instrumental mastery. More than anything, their love for great music and ability to create it is apparent. This album will undoubtedly leave fans pining for the next collaboration. Until then, this collection of songs can be joyfully played repeatedly.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Good Love
– Salvation Bound
– You Just Keep Letting Me Down
– Is It Me?
The Big Hit
Review by Willie Witten