by Mark Anthony Brennan
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Label: Transistor 66
On ‘Thank You I’m Sorry’ the trio known as The Crooked Brothers embellish their rootsy folk music with the more urban sounds of rock, blues jazz and funk. These “rural” and “city” forms of music form a sort of dichotomy which is best illustrated by contrasting the song “Organs on Demand”, with its urbane spoken word poetry set against a funky blues rhythm, to the likes of “Kennedy”, with its acoustic folk guitars and down home steel guitars.
This dichotomy is pervasive on the album as it extends beyond the music and is reflected in the lyrics as well. Listening to “Dear Antonia” one would be tempted to draw the conclusion that The Crooked Brothers harbour a disdain for the shallowness of urban culture and seem to have more of an appreciation for the country life where “sweetie prepares beans on the fire” and they are beyond the long arm of the law (“Sitting True”). But that would be an oversimplification. For example, the character in the song “North of the Border” realizes that rural life is not always pleasant and eventually comes to appreciate the urban setting that he settles into.
On the musical level, The Crooked Brothers fuse these binary elements into a form of indie folk that can be best compared to The National. At least that is true for most of the songs, with the exceptions being the truly unique-sounding “Organs on Demand” and the two pastiches, “Pass You By” (rockabilly) and “Mean Mean Baby” (harmonica blues). The beer parlour rocker “Lightning On My Chest”, on the other hand, is not so much a pastiche as it is a homage to the great Tom Waits.
Based on the foregoing, it goes without saying that the material here is far beyond pedestrian. However, with the possible exception of “Blackbird In The Snow” and its intriguing lyrics, there is nothing spectacular here either. Although ‘Thank You I’m Sorry’ has The Crooked Brothers sitting comfortably among their contemporary indie folk peers, it doesn’t place them head and shoulders above the crowd.