FolkWords Reviews

Self-titled album - The James Brothers - mixing musical virtuosity and seemingly boundless energy

(February 15, 2016)

There’s something about a good press release having a killer first line, well opening with: “The James Brothers are not really outlaws, neither are they brothers and only one of them is called James” is probably going to get james brotehers album coveryou noticed. Get past that and you’re captured by The James Brothers' brand of Antipodean Colonial Roots music, mixing musical virtuosity and seemingly boundless energy with a folk, blues and bluegrass ... a melange of original and traditional songs and tunes.

The James Brothers are James Fagan and Jamie McClennan, respectively from Australia and New Zealand, and they deliver a unique look at music from their combined heritage and original approach. They reflect on topics as varied as the life of the notorious Australian bushranger ‘The Ballad of Ned Kelly’ and Queensland’s flood-inducing rains ‘Hey Rain’, through ‘Run Away Wilder’ about New Zealand folk hero and serial prison escaper George Wilder, and shipping timber from Auckland’s kauri forests ‘The Voyage of the Buffalo’. They mix their narratives with instrumental sets that are awash with intricate strings from rampant, blistering fiddle to rock solid guitar, and if there’s a point on this album where you lose interest then I for one will be mightily surprised.

The James Brothers are Jamie McClennan (vocals, fiddle, guitar) and James Fagan (vocals, bouzouki, guitar). The strength of their debut album lies in the clear symbiosis between two accomplished musicians. Listening to ‘The James Brothers’ it takes little imagination to visualise the result in a live set, well I’m pleased to say that there’s a February/ March UK tour in the offing.

You can find the album and tour details on their website: thejamesbrothers.co.uk

Review: Tim Carroll

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