Album Review: The Braam Brothers — Landscapes

Have you ever wondered what Cowboy Junkies might’ve sounded like with a male lead singer? Me neither, but here’s the answer anyway: The Braam Brothers on their latest album, Landscapes.

Effectively combining rock sensibility and a subtle, gentle and laid-back vibe, Landscapes is a truly enjoyable release from this Chicago duo. Though it sports a title that telegraphs a different kind of music, “Nashville” conjures a windswept, contemplative aura that’s closer to Midwest heartland rock than anything else.

Too often “mellow” can connote less-than-engaging, something short of compelling. That’s most definitely not the case here. The songs have a unity of sonic character, conveying the power and energy of rock. It’s just that they present that character in an atmospheric context that lets Landscapes work equally well as background – as aural wallpaper – or the subject of active, engaged listening.

The only potential downside of the album’s consistency is a slight sameness; for listeners who engage passively with the record, the dozen tunes may seem to blur together. But a closer listen shows that not to be the case; each song stand well on its own.

The record’s cover art suggests nostalgia, a warm remembrance of times past, and that feeling carries through in the music within. There’s nothing in the character of this album that suggests a specific period of time; the brothers wisely steer clear of any production flourishes that would cause the album to age poorly.

Siblings Tom (vocals, drums, keys) and Scott (vocals, guitars, bass) Braam have a knowing command of their instruments, employing them in the service of chiming, memorable tunes. Imagine a more melancholy Gin Blossoms and you’ll begin to get a sense of the character of Landscapes. But a better strategy is simply to listen, to luxuriate in the finely-wrought, breezy textures of this lovely album.