Twenty-seven years. Four bandmates. Two brothers. One album. ! Let It Lie, the debut release from Canadian roots-rockers the Bros. Landreth, is proof that there's strength in numbers.
It's an album about open highways and broken hearts, anchored by the bluesy wail of electric guitars, the swell of B3 organ, and the harmonized swoon of two voices that were born to mesh. At first listen, you might call it Americana. Dig deeper, though, and you'll hear the nuances that separate The Bros. Landreth — whose members didn't grow up in the American south, but rather the isolated prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba — from their folksy friends in the Lower 48. ! Where does the sound come from? Maybe it's in their blood. After all, long before they made music together, siblings David and Joey Landreth attended their father's bar gigs as babies. ! "Mom would take us in the basinet and stick us under the bar tables, and we'd fall asleep," says David. "Dad was a working musician who backed up people like Amos Garrett, but his love was always songwriting. He'd play three or four sets at those bars, so we'd be at the gigs all night." ! "We were always around music," adds Joey, the group's frontman and chief songwriter. "We had no choice! We were baptized into it."
As the kids got older, they began paying attention to the records their parents would play in the small, WWII-era shack that doubled as the family's home. Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, and Little Feat all received plenty of airtime, with John Hiatt's Bring the Family and Lyle Lovett's Pontiac standing out as family favourites. The siblings absorbed those records, which spun tales of love, life and lust in the Bible Belt. Years later — after Joey and David had given up their gigs as sidemen to form their own group, with drummer Ryan Voth and keyboardist Alex Campbell rounding out the ranks — the Bros. Landreth began drawing on that familiar sound, mixing the rootsy swirl of Americana with the bandmates' own experiences up north.
Let It Lie was recorded in a straw bale house in southern Manitoba, during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Working with producer Murray Pulver, the Bros. Landreth found warmth in the songs that Joey and David had written at home, brewing up an earthy, earnest sound that has since drawn comparisons to the Eagles, the Allman Brothers, and Jackson Browne. Eager to tip their hat to the man who gave the Landreth siblings their very first instruments, the band also recorded a version of "I am the Fool," a song originally written by the boys' father, renowned Winnipeg musician Wally Landreth. Wally even stopped by the studio to sing a verse on "Runaway Train," a scuzzy, fuzzy rock song that mixes boogie-woogie guitars with two generations of bluesy, booming Landreth vocals.
"He slayed it," says Joey, who laughs at the memory of duetting with his father in the recording studio. "It was fun, for the first time in my life, to get to tell my Dad what to do." ! Album highlights like "Our Love," "Firecracker" and Nothing" were all inspired by a string of rocky relationships, but Lie It Lie is more than a breakup album. Filled with mid-tempo rockers, butter-smooth ballads and cowboy lullabies, it's the sort of album that finds inspiration not only in the landscape of the human heart, but also the windswept prairies that stretch for hours on every side of Winnipeg's city limits. The music is steeped in the history and heritage of the band's hometown, and if it sounds wintry as times, that doesn't mean it's not downright lovely.
That hometown was quick to embrace the Bros. Landreth, with the Winnipeg Free Press applauding the band's "blues rock [songs] resplendent with soulful harmonies as golden and warm as the late evening sun." Meanwhile, the band began hitting the road in 2013, traveling the heartlands and highways that helped inspire their songs in the first place. They didn't limit their focus to Canada, either. During the summer of 2014, the Bros. Landreth signed a deal with Slate Creek Records, an American label whose roster includes singer/songwriter Brandy Clark and Pistol Annies member Angaleena Presley.
"I remember the moment Dave and I started singing together," Joey remembers, "and I realized how similar we sounded. It was a bit of an 'a-ha' moment for us. We were both pretty burnt out from our sideman jobs and wanted to make some music together, just for fun. The band built itself after that. I was just standing there, watching the walls go up." ! "Joey taught me how to sing," David adds. "Prior to the band getting started, there were 3 or 4 years where we really didn't spend much time together, because we were touring with other groups. We'd always been really close as teenagers. With the Bros. Landreth, I feel like it's almost a divine interception. We were supposed to come back together and make this music."