By Kai Shuart
The Hobart Brothers and Lil’ Sis Hobart is a collaborative effort between Jon Dee Graham, Freedy Johnston (whose song “Bad Reputation” I really enjoyed back in the day), and Susan Cowsill of the Cowsills musician family and the Continental Drifters (a band which included, among others, Vicki Peterson of the Bangles). The group’s debut album, At Least We Have Each Other, is finally available after being in the works for a couple of years thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The writing and recording took place mostly in Austin, Texas, and it shows in the form of of twangy electric guitars and lyrics about traveling. This is a CD you’d put in the car if you were traveling on a three-day road trip with no destination in mind. The laid back attitude of the album is cemented in the little moments, such as when Cowsill, after singing “Ballad of Sis (Didn’t I Love You?)”, says into the mic, “That was fuckin’ great.”
Since we’re on the subject, let’s start with that tune. “Ballad of Sis (Didn’t I Love You?)” kicks off the album with a guitar rhythm that calls to mind Tom Petty and a memorable chorus that I found myself singing along with. In it a spurned woman pleads, “Didn’t I love you/about as hard as anyone could/didn’t I love you/whether bad or good” and then demands to know how that former partner could leave someone “Out here on the tracks.”
Another stand-out track is “Almost Dinnertime.” Graham’s vocals are engaging, their grit contrasting wonderfully with the image of a bunch of children playing innocently; as the song progresses, it conveys perfectly the vague dread that adulthood brings on, with its incipient responsibilities and fears.
At Least We Have Each Other is a relaxed album that has some flaws (I couldn’t get into “First Day on the Job” because of the all-too-deliberate rhyme scheme), but you get the impression that they are supposed to be there. This album displays the pleasing results of a trio of lifelong musicians just wanting to see what happens when the “record” button is pushed.