The Earl Brothers, San Francisco’s minimalist, honky-tonk, retrograss bad boys are back with a new release, their 4th self-produced project. In a major departure from their 10 year embrace of a “men in black” vibe, this new, self-titled CD is unofficially dubbed The White Album.
But the music is pure Earl – their trademark style of acoustic rockabilly with a decided Stanley Brothers feel. If such categorization is required, think Dwight Yoakam and Hank Williams hooking up with Ralph Stanley and the Johnson Mountain Boys. Their sound is carefully unpolished, cultivating the illusion that these Earl boys haven’t heard a piece of recorded music since the 1950s.
But there really aren’t and Earl Brothers in the band. It is headed up by banjo picker and vocalist Robert Earl Davis, assisted by Danny Morris on guitar, James Touzel on bass, Larry Hughes on mandolin and Tom Lucas on fiddle. Davis writes the bulk of their material and his distinctive voice makes their music instantly recognizable.
You can hear audio samples from the new album at CD Baby, and get a taste of what The Earl Brothers are all about in this recent YouTube clip. It’s from a show this summer in Saskatchewan, playing Hard Times, Goin’ Down The Road, a song from their 2004 debut project, Whiskey, Women & Death.