The Bros. Landreth possess a specific musical authority on originality. They understand what it means to create something unique because they spent their early careers doing the opposite. More specifically, both Joey and Dave started as self-professed “side people,” as session players in other bands. It wasn’t until later that they found their own artistic niche as The Bros. Landreth.
“I think for the early part of our careers, we both really truly identified as instrumentalists. Me as a guitar player, David as a bass player,” Joey tells American Songwriter. “So our [own] voice was an interesting thing to find because we had spent so much of our careers trying to basically be other people. You know, you get an artist gig and you’d learn whatever guitar player, bass player’s parts from the record, and you were doing your job best if nobody could tell it was you. And so the process of figuring out who we were and what we sounded like was interesting for us.”
Joey continues to compare the process of finding their sound to that of replicating your grandmother’s chocolate cookie recipe. You might add more chocolate chips than the original recipe called for just as the brothers added more of their own influences to their music. Ultimately, their records turned out to be a delicious blend of the music they grew up on—like Bonnie Raitt (who recently released a song written by the brothers called “Made Up Mind”), John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, and Steely Dan.
“It’s also about figuring out what the honest thing to say is in any given moment,” Dave adds. “As you get further along in your creative journey, you start to trust your intuition a little better and a little more easily.”
Following their intuition led the brothers to create three albums together. Their debut record Let It Lie won the Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year—Group in 2015. Their sophomore album, ’87, was released in 2019, and their third offering drops on May 13 of 2022. The most recent record, Come Morning, is a collection of songs that explains a period of hope and healing for the brothers.
“On this record, we’re pretty quick to fire things that just don’t feel like us,” Dave says. “If we hear something [that’s not us], we go, ‘That’s not you, man.’ Like, ‘Joe that’s not you. You’re not going to sing that. You’re not going to play that. That’s not honest.’… You keep digging for the thing that feels most honest and most integral at that moment.”
The brothers admit that digging for authenticity isn’t always easy. “When we sit down to write a record, sometimes it’s painful,” Dave explains. “Trying to get back into the groove and find the inspiration, sometimes… it’s like we’re banging our heads against the wall, and we spent more time eating sandwiches than we do writing songs.”
But after combing through a backlog of songs and new ideas, the brothers struck gold and created Come Morning.
The 10-track record is polished and profound with features from musicians Leith Ross, Aaron Sterling, and Daniel Roy. Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jonathan Singleton also helped bring one of the Come Morning songs to fruition. The collaborative track is titled “What in the World.”
“Every time we write with him, we go to school. Like we get an education and it is so fun,” Dave says of co-writing with Singleton.
The opening track “Stay” is a gentle groove about settling down. Another song on the record, “Drive All Night” is a bouncing six-minute adventure that was originally written for Joey’s “weird little solo record.” Instead of releasing it on a solo album, though, Joey brought it to his brother. Dave added his own signature to the song and it found a home on Come Morning.
The title track then ties together many of the themes on the record as its sad song exterior gives way to acceptance. “‘Come Morning’ is about just letting yourself feel,” Joey explains. “When you get to these hard places in your life, we all have this tendency—or lots of us have this tendency—to run in the other direction and try to play tough. And what I’ve realized in my older age is that the best thing you can do is to let it happen. Let yourself break down if that’s what you need to do, and lean into those things.”
The Bros. Landreth seriously pursue these themes of honesty in their songwriting and bring their lyrics to life with incredibly dynamic performances. Yet they are also goofy. “We’re kind of goofballs,” Dave confirms. “I do think that is an important part of our dynamic, that we don’t take ourselves super seriously all the time.”
Photo courtesy of Shorefire Media