Thirty years. Four bandmates. Two brothers. One album and at last, another in the works.
Let It Lie, the JUNO winning debut release from Canadian roots-rockers the Bros. Landreth, was 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 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 guitarist Ariel Posen 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.
In 2013, the band packed their gear into their beloved Dodge Ram tour van, Rammy Davis Jr., traveling behind the self-released record through 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. From there they toured the world, playing concerts and festivals on three continents. At AmericanaFest 2014 Rolling Stone called them “...some of the best Southern-style blues we wolfed down all weekend. …a quiet storm of slide guitar solos, blue notes, three-part harmonies…” In 2015 they collected a JUNO for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year and a nomination for the Americana UK International Artist of the Year alongside Gretchen Peters, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson.
They were cute once... what happened?
They were cute once... what happened?
A highlight for the Bros was meeting one of their musical heroes, Bonnie Raitt, who caught their main stage performance at the infamous Winnipeg Folk Festival. “We grew up on her music. We listened to her right from the beginning. Being able to hang out with her, shooting the breeze - musician to musician - was absolutely surreal. She was incredibly down to earth and sincere.” The brothers recollect. “That night, without realizing it, she set a golden standard for us that we strive for now in our career. She raised the bar for integrity and humility - on and off the stage.”
Bonnie was equally impressed by the band, “I haven’t liked a band as much as the Bros Landreth in a long time. ...they blew me away. Great singing, playing—(killer slide guitar), songs and the band seriously kicks.”
In the fall of 2016 the collective took a hiatus - giving Joey an opportunity to further explore his growing reputation for being a first-rate guitar slinger with the release of a solo album, Whiskey, which he toured extensively through Canada, the US, and the UK.
Now, back in the saddle, the band is as excited as ever to get back in the studio and make a new record. “We’re a little older now, we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of shows, thousands and thousands of miles under our belts... This next record is gonna have a confidence that we didn’t have - couldn’t have with the first.” Teaming up with longtime creative cohort and producer, Murray Pulver, and working out Winnipeg’s own Stereobus Studios, the forthcoming album will be an exciting evolution of the band’s sound, honed by thousands of hours on stage and filtered through the lens of the last four years on the road.
“The time off that we took between touring ‘Let it Lie’ and coming back together to make this next album was really hard on all of us.” Dave says. “We had to do it, but it was tough. That said, being away from each other, both on and off the band stand, gave us some really valuable perspective. It let us realize just how important and deeply satisfying it is for us to make music together and that’s something that we won’t soon forget.”