The Gibson Brothers

Brotherhood

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More than two decades after they began recording, bluegrass innovators the Gibson Brothers issue their first all-covers album as their debut for Rounder. Eric and Leigh have long been inspired by sibling groups from country and bluegrass history, and they often play standard tunes from those canons, but their own composing -- which makes up the lion's share of their catalog -- reflects it, too. This date, years in the making -- it took Leigh that long to convince Eric to cut an entire album of tunes by other artists, and its original working title, Maudlin Parlor Songs, reflected the latter's view. It was worth the wait. These covers -- many iconic, some obscure -- offer proof of the Gibson's own contribution to the bluegrass lineage with glorious harmonies and subtle liberties that carve these songs deeper into the American grain. Two Everly Brothers numbers bookend the set and offer twin sides of each group's persona: the sprightly, wide-eyed opener "Bye Bye Love" and the wiser, deeper, sadder, honky tonk weeper "Crying in the Rain" that brings the 15-song set full circle. Along the way are killer stops at the Church Brothers' "Angel with Blue Eyes," the Monroe Brothers' "I Have Found a Way," the Osborne Brothers' "How Mountain Girls Can Love," and the Louvins' "Seven Year Blues." Two unusual inclusions here are Billy Ray Reynolds' "It'll Be Her," a pre-outlaw country hit for Tompall & the Glaser Brothers, and the gospel number "What a Wonderful Savior Is He." The latter mirrors the original by the Four Brothers Quartet -- actually two Knoxville sibling duos -- in that it features guest appearances from Rob and Ronnie McCoury to round it out. Almost all fans of bluegrass and post-'50s roots country will find something familiar or obscure that resonates on Brotherhood. This is the sound of lifelong effort, collaboration, and inspiration brought to grand fruition.

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