Crowe Brothers: Brothers-N-Harmony

Brotherly duo blends classic country and bluegrass in a sound made for the golden age of the Grand Ole Opry. You know, before they made Carrie Underwood a member.

Crowe Brothers


Label: Rural Rhythm
US Release Date: 2008-09-23
UK Release Date: Available as import

Brothers Josh and Wayne Crowe have been recording and touring together since 1975, but they sound straight out of the 1940s. If they had just been born a few decades earlier, the Crowe Brothers would be listed alongside all of the other great brother duos of country/western and bluegrass music. Luckily for contemporary fans of classic American music, the Crowes serve as a needed respite from overly progressive newgrass bands and bubblegum teen idols masquerading as country singers.

The songs on Brothers-N-Harmony blend seamlessly, with originals like "Holdin' on When You Let Go", written by Dixie Hall and Eric Gibson (one half of a brother duo himself), sounding right at home with classic songs like "Why Not Confess". While the brothers are not the strongest songwriters -- only two of the album's twelve tracks were written by a Crowe -- they are pretty talented in picking songs that fit their voices and old-school style.

Brothers-N-Harmony starts off with a bang. "Cindy Mae", the first single of the record (written by Cody Shuler of Pine Mountain Railroad), sets the tone for the rest of the album: sprightly banjo, nasal vocals, and singalong catchiness. The Crowes then pay tribute to the Louvin Brothers with their version of "Are You Teasin' Me", sounding eerily similar to Charlie and Ira's high lonesome harmonies. Charlie Louvin himself shows up in the liner notes, stating that it was "a treat" to hear this song, which had been "really good to Ira and [himself]" early in their musical career.

Bluegrass's gospel tradition is also strongly represented on the record. The Crowes sing the 50-year-old gospel tune "I Know I'm Saved" with their voices reaching near-castrato heights, apparently taking the adage "lift every voice and sing" a little too literally. But when it comes to gospel in bluegrass, the higher the voice, the closer to God, so the Crowe boys are all set. Also on the album is the Josh Crowe-penned "Take Me By the Hand", which is strong enough that one wonders why the album is so lacking in Crowe originals.

It seems as though Josh and Wayne have made a lot of friends in their 30-some-year career. Nashville A-listers like Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Randy Kohrs (dobro/lap steel), and Don Wayne Reno (banjo) all appear as guest musicians on several tracks, adding depth to the two brothers' guitar and bass. Although the Crowe Brothers borrow heavily from bluegrass, they also pay homage to classic country and western music as well. "God Must be a Cowboy" is made for the long past era of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and an untrammeled West full of campfires, horses, and wide open spaces. Cliché, yes, but a nice little song for those feeling nostalgic for the Lone Ranger.

Overall, Brothers-N-Harmony is a don't-miss album for fans of classic country, bluegrass, or just plain damn good music. The Crowe Brothers may be too old for heartthrob status, and they may sing through their noses, but the songs come straight from their hearts.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.