Now this is what I’m talking about! Those who have been following me as a music reviewer for a few years know that I’ve been more critical of the Brothers Osborne than many and that’s because I feel they haven’t lived up to their potential. Their debut album Pawn Shop was decent, but they definitely hit a sophomore slump with Port Saint Joe, a largely forgettable beach album. But with Skeletons they hit their sweet spot, a thumping and fun album that’s a good time from start to finish.
“Lighten Up” is a light and playful ode to finding silver linings in the chaotic world we live in and “All Night” is an absolute ear-worm with it’s catchy hooks. “All The Good Ones Are” has enjoyably slick guitar work with a cheeky theme of finding the most fun in the most dangerous situations. “I’m Not For Everyone” screams hit to me with it’s easygoing, sing-a-long nature and relatable premise. The album’s title track is fun, although it wears a bit quicker than the other fun tracks on the album, as it has one of the weaker hooks. Jay Joyce really excels with the production on this album, as it feels like he’s found the right sound for this duo and that excites me moving forward on future projects.
While this album has plenty of fun songs, it tackles other themes quite well too. “Back On The Bottle” is your classic country drinking song of finding joy in heartbreak through the bottle. And while it’s become a bit tiresome to have celebratory drinking songs in modern country, this song has enough charisma to win me over. “High Note” is a pleasant song about leaving a relationship on good terms and going out on a high note with one last hurrah. The soaring and smooth nature of this song is a nice breather too on an album full of “twangers” (country’s version of bangers).
The duo really surprise me when they drop an exciting instrumental in “Muskrat Greene.” It reminds me of when Brad Paisley would regularly sneak an instrumental onto the album and I wish more artists would do this. This instrumental segues nicely into “Deadman’s Curve,” a funny, yet serious song about trying to avoid falling in love with a woman who’s guaranteed to break your heart. “Make It A Good One” is admittedly a bit saccharine, but I can’t help but enjoy it’s sentiment. Not to mention I enjoy the lingering background synth in the chorus, as it really adds some emotion to the lyrics.
“Hatin’ Somebody” is a bit on the nose, but once again Brothers Osborne bring enough charisma to the table in both their vocal delivery and funky instrumentation that the message mostly sticks the landing. It would have been nice though to here some more depth behind this message beyond be nice and mindful of others. Closing song “Old Man’s Boots” is the only song on the album I skip most of the time, as it’s a mawkish, done-to-death theme that the duo fails to elevate and captivate my attention with.
Skeletons is easily the best album delivered by the Brothers Osborne so far. This duo at their best in my mind is the modern day version of Brooks & Dunn. What both of these duos excel at is delivering accessible, yet “smarter” versions of fun country music that doesn’t delve into mindless drivel like bro country nor does it feel forced like pop country. Then sprinkle in a few serious songs to give you a nice breather in between all of the partying and this is the perfect formula for the duo to follow. This is a really enjoyable album and definitely one of the top ten country albums you’ll hear in 2020.