The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart may not be a super group in the usual sense of the word, but it is the coming together of three artists from different musical styles and backgrounds. Jon Dee Graham, Freedy (not Freddy) Johnston, and Susan Cowsill have combined their talents to form The Hobart Brothers with Lil’ Sis Hobart. They took the name Hobart from the dishwashers of the same name, which are found in nearly every restaurant where they performed during the early days of their solo careers. They are now about to release their debut album, As Least We Have Each Other.
Their ten song album comprises seven songs from their most recent studio recording sessions, plus three from their first, drumless, demo sessions. With the purchase of the album comes a free download of the entire nine song demo session.
Jon Dee Graham was a member/guitarist of the classic rock band, The Skunks, whose sound channeled such groups as The Rolling Stones and The New York Dolls. Freedy Johnston is best known as a songwriter who can paint pictures with his lyrics and surround them with catchy music. Susan Cowsill was a member of the mid to late 1960s pop group The Cowsills. Lately, her music has veered in a pop/folk direction.
Sometimes when artists from different traditions come together the results can seem forced or out of sync. Graham, Johnston, and Cowsill play like they have been together for years. The lyrics tell stories about cooks, waitresses, dishwashers, truck-drivers, love, despair, and living in a car. The music ranges from catchy to gritty. Their voices blend together effortlessly into subtle and sometimes soaring harmonies.
The overall sound travels in a number of directions. There is some catchy pop, a little swamp rock that reminds you of Creedence Clearwater, and some Americana music that is similar to The Band. The album’s first track, “Ballad Of Sis (Didn’t I Love You),” is the catchiest track as it is a pop infused up-tempo romp.
There are a number of well-crafted and very listenable songs. “Why I Don’t Hunt” is an ominous sounding song right out of the Louisiana bayou. “Sweet Senorita” moves in a country direction. It is a mid-tempo piece with a lush, filled-in sound. “I Never Knew There Would Be You” and “All Things Being Equal” feature fine lead vocals, especially from Susan Cowsill whose soulful voice has become a wonderful instrument.
The second half of the album contains more of a stripped down sound. In a way it reminds me of some of Levon Helm’s solo music. “First Day On The Job,” “The Dishwasher,” and “I Am Sorry” are personal stories with gritty music.
At Least We Have Each Other is an enjoyable union of three talented artists who have been practicing their craft for decades. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates good music.
Article first published as Music Review: The Hobart Brothers with Lil’ Sis Hobart – At Least We Have Each Other on Blogcritics.