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Lost Brothers: The Passing of the Night

Reviewed By: Cila Warncke
Label: Lojinx
Format: CD

The Lost Brothers, Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland, are remarkably adept at finding themselves in interesting places. ‘Trails of the Lonely (Parts I and III)’ was recorded in Portland, Oregon. For the next instalment of their musical adventures they decamped to Sheffield, England. Their latest LP, ‘The Passing of the Night’ comes straight out of Nashville, Tennessee, courtesy of studio time with indie singer-songwriter par excellence and sometime Raconteur Brendan Benson.

For all their peregrinations, however, the Losties never lose their Irish lilt, nor fail to kindle an emotional spark. Opener ‘Not Now Warden’ is characteristic: a Simon & Garfunkel-esque first-person ditty that evokes equal parts swamp melancholy and ragged-trouser optimism. It is also a fine, though by no means unique, example of Oisin and Mark’s gift for creating worlds from a handful of carefully chosen words. Barely three-and-a-half minutes long, ‘Not Now Warden’ takes you into the heart of the prison and the prisoner, leaving images that linger along with the soft melody.

‘Far Side’ is another ballad of distance and loss that is sweetly sentimental without slipping into self-pity (“I know we’ve both got troubles in mind/But I guess we’re doing alright”). It is also a splendid showcase for Mark and Oisin’s whiskey-mellow harmonies, which are the almost exact aural equivalent of sitting by a smoky wood fire on a cold night with a tumbler in hand and a tear in your eye.

There is laughter as well. ‘Bird in a Cage’ bemoans the attractions of the bottle with a knowing wink, and ‘Hey Miss Fannie’ is a rollicking love song that might just get you up off that dusty fireside sofa to do a shuffle with the pretty barmaid.

Picking out individual songs is unfair, however. Each beautiful little tune lures you deeper into a romantic parallel universe of battered shoes, tear-stained letters, and wandering minstrels; a place where love is always bittersweet and the road always beckons.

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