Brothers Osborne have a way of speaking to your soul through their work.
Since their very first single release, 2013’s ‘Let’s Go There,’ the duo - comprised of brothers T.J. and John Osborne - have embodied downhome, homegrown country music. Their lyrics are sharp and their voices even more so, emoting from the deepest parts of human living.
Throughout their career, T.J. and John have amassed an impressive catalog, currently boasting three full-length albums and an EP, while showing no signs of slowing down. From their biggest hits to essential deep cuts, here are the duo’s 15 best songs to date.
What if, instead of cutting the rope when times are bad, we go our separate ways when times are good? That’s the question T.J. asks with ‘High Note’. It’s almost confessional in the way T.J. allows his inner musings to ooze out onto the recording, as though sent from heaven.
“Before the smoke clears, let's agree that's all she wrote,” he supposes. Perhaps that’s when the end should come, while a relationship has never been higher; an amicable parting untethered by anger or resentment. It might do both parties the world of good.
T.J. slinks along a dark wound of a melody with a smolder burning his tongue. “I don’t believe it / You got me feeling like a pistol,” he sings.
Within its sharp-shootin’ lyrics, there lies a seductive spell, potent enough to mesmerize even the most cold-hearted. Guitars whip like the wind while the drums seem to weep in the distance. A kiss goodbye has never hurt so deeply.
Everyone marches to the beat of their own drum, and that’s quite alright. With ‘I’m Not for Everyone’, T.J. and John celebrate the diversity of living and teach about acceptance of our differences.
“I’m hard to love, it’s true / I’m a little more rough than smooth,” sing the duo. The uptempo rocker also accepts that not everyone will be someone else’s cup of tea - a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. That’s the nature of life.
A fleeting kiss, a tender embrace, a fragile romance - those things throb within ‘Stay a Little Longer.’ Drums kick the rhythm with ferocious, red-blooded intensity.
Two lovers long for their affair to last just a few more minutes, but the clock ticks away until dawn breaks, shattering the illusion of their dalliance.
Life is all about change, and nothing ever stays the same. The duo takes your hands in theirs, reminding you how fleeting life really is. Through glistening sentiment, they urge you to call up your mama and make amends to that friend “you swore you'd never talk to again.”
It “ain’t about the money,” they add. When you get to the root of existence, it’s about the love you can give. So, be as generous as you possibly can.
In his younger days, he was “a wild one”, but all that’s changed in time and in love. With ‘I Don’t Remember Me (Before You),’ T.J. flips through a photo album of memories, wondering where the time has gone and who he was before a relationship completely changed his life.
“Heard I was a fast one, always was the last one / waitin' for the other shoe to fall,” he reflects. Now living in the present, he sacrifices the past, washing it away from his memory.
The wisdom of T.J.’s father’s boots was earned through miles of mud and toil, from Saturday night hoe-downs to treading the earth; “I'd be lucky to walk a mile in my old man's boots,” he sings.
There’s nothing quite like a well-worn pair of boots that prove life has been lived fully and unapologetically. ‘Old Man’s Boots’ trips along with a finger-picked style, smoldering and bluesy. On the bridge, T.J. offers this profound tidbit: “They didn't bring home a fortune, but we were fortunate for doing just fine”.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, or what you do for a living. We’re all just trying to get by in a system built against itself. ‘American Crazy’ is a battle cry, a plea to set aside our differences and pull together for a common goal.
“We’re lost, and we’re found”, sings T.J. At the heart of the matter, none of it actually matters. We’re all human, and that’s exactly the message we all need right now. “We all bleed the same blood”.
Sometimes, there’s a love so intense, there’s no way to get out of it alive. That’s the central theme to ‘Pushing Up Daisies (Love Alive)’, a guitar-drenched, slow rollin’ midtempo about an enduring flame.
“We'll be livin' it up right down to the day we die,” sings T.J. The only thing standing in their way of separating is time’s cruel hand, which’ll come to them sooner or later. Despite it all, he’d do it all over again and again.
Rosy-cheeked and nostalgic, the duo wander back through the halls of romance and reflect upon a former lover. Time does what it always does, casting an almost mournful shroud around the past.
Echos of the past emerge in the song’s steady beat, pairing nicely with T.J.’s wonderfully sweet vocal lead. His turns around the melody are tinged with a bittersweet twang, tangled with regret and deep sadness. As Sheryl Crow would say, the first cut is the deepest.
Using vices as a metaphor for love is not a new conceit. But ‘Loving Me Back’ sticks in the brain. A collaboration with Lee Ann Womack, the soaring, sky-cracking ballad mines familiar territory, delivering a sucker punch of emotion and vocal prowess.
T.J. mourns past vices, like cigarettes and whiskey, while cherishing a love that makes him finally feel loved back. “You get me high / You get me stoned”, T.J. and Womack sing to each other. It’s enough of a wallop to give even the listener a secondhand high.
If you’re collaborating with The War And Treaty, you’re bound to go to church.
With rollicking piano and blues riffs, the meet-up among the quartet is nothing short of a soul-snatching revival. Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter blow the rafters from the joint, with T.J. and John keeping the fever dance going with their very own tight-rope vocal chops.
“Well, you know that I like it,” the singers trade places on the groovy Stones classic. It’s a downright barn burner, ripe for the cleansing.
Emitting energy akin to ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’, this Skeletons deep cut shoots electricity into the system.
It’s relentless; “Country boys ain't never gonna learn / Nobody ever makes it through that turn,” T.J. roars. In using a dead man’s curve as a metaphor, the duo send a warning about a new lover hellbent on destruction.
“Every man’s been tempted,” he continues, adding, “She’s the trouble you’ve been looking for”. It’s the sort of bristling uptempo that hits you squarely in the jaw.
Weed, whiskey, and country music -- three things that T.J. and John swear by. Whenever they’ve felt the sting of heartbreak, or simply feeling down ‘n' out, the duo turns to these vices to get them through the night. “I’ve got bottles and vinyl stacked to the ceiling,” admits T.J.
Putting on a record, pouring a stiff drink, and sitting back provides an escape, a way of coping, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not that they drown in such things, but it’s a way to cope, at least momentarily. As such, they find themselves clawing out of darkness and entering the light.
When T.J. came out as gay, the country world shifted on its axis. It’s a rarity to have a current mainstream act be so open about their sexuality. ‘Younger Me’ embodies T.J.’s journey, as he gazes back in time to his youth and offers wisdom.
“You got me where I am today”, he encourages, his voice spinning in the air with an intoxicating warmth. As melancholic as the melody is, the lyrics offer a tinge of hope, finding the singer accepting the hardship for making him the man he is today.
Subscribe and Listen to Holler's Best Brothers Osborne Songs Playlist below:
For more Brothers Osborne, see below: