Review: The Earl Brothers

The Earl Brothers spokesman/band leader is Robert Earl Davis. Unabashedly, Robert Earl Davis is quick to point out that The Earl Brothers are and will remain a traditional bluegrass band. There will be no pushing the envelope into progressive or newgrass pastures. This concept is what The Earl Brothers fans like.

“They sound like they just came out of the hills…”, as one Earl Brothers fan said.

As if to press home this point all Earl Brothers CDs are in black and white—nothing fancy—just a plain black and white cover. Bobby Earl wrote most of the songs on the CD. Even those written with Danny Morris or Tom Lucas sound like they were written by Bobby. “Sweet Bye And Bye” was written by Danny Morris but it also sounds like Bobby influenced the finished song to fit the Earl Brothers standards.

“Cruel Lover’s Game”

“Walk In The Light” epitomizes Bobby Earl’s style with no solos and simple mountain harmony. “Cold & Lonesome” and “I Won’t Be Around Anymore”, with loping melodies, both scream for some hot solos but solo spots are just filled with basic banjo picking. “Cruel Lover’s Game” has a nice sparse fiddle accompaniment by Tom Lucas. “Thinking Of You” is kicked off by the banjo and barely gets off the G chord with repeating fiddle solos that follow the song’s melody. “Sweet Bye And Bye” diverts from the rest of the album with the band’s guitar and tenor vocalist, Danny Morris singing the lead. “Red Top Rumble” is the lone instrumental with a plain arrangement; there is fiddle and banjo but no sparkling attacks by either instrument. “When The Lovin’s All Over” joins the rest of the solo-less songs and fulfills the Earl criteria for straight-line bluegrass. “Troubles,” “Lightning” and “Going Back Home” predictably follow the Earl Brothers guidelines for simplicity of instrumentation, vocals and lyrics. The other members of the band are James Touzel on bass and Larry Hughes on mandolin.

Doug Mathewson

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