The Brothers Brothers go ‘Cover to Cover’ on new album
The Brother Brothers return to Central New York on Sunday night, playing a show at Sweet Land Farm in Trumansburg to promote their new album, “Cover to Cover,” which comes out August 5.
Identical twins Adam and David Moss have performed in Ithaca a few times, opening for Americana favorites Sarah Jarosz at the Hangar Theatre in 2017 and for I’m With Her at the State Theatre in 2018 before headlining their own show at the Haunt in 2019.
"Cover to Cover" includes an eclectic array of songs, including The Beatles’ “I Will,” Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes),” Robert Earl Keen’s “Feelin’ Good Again,” Richard Thompson’s “Waltzing’s for Dreamers,” Judee Sill’s “Rugged Road” and Tom Waits’ “Flowers Grave.” They also chose Harley Allen’s “High Sierra,” done by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt on their “Trio II” album, and “If You Ain’t Got Love,” by Chas Justus of Lafayette, La., known to Ithacans for his bands the Revelers and the Red Stick Ramblers.
The Moss twins, who play a variety of instruments, are joined by several guests on the album, including Jarosz, Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price and her sister Emily Price, Nashville singer-songwriter Michaela Anne, drummer Matty Meyer (from Miss Tess and the Talkbacks), guitarists Jeff Picker and Ryan Scott, bassist Michael Rinne, and banjo master Alison Brown.
Adam Moss, in a phone interview while driving into Burlington, Vt. earlier this week, said that the new album was a fun project to do during the pandemic.
“It was a great little relief from the isolation of the pandemic,” he said. “It was actually in that little window before Delta and after vaccinations, so there was a lot of socializing, safety. There's a lot of really great musicians in Nashville, and we kind of got to get to pick all of our favorites because people weren't really on tour yet, so it was really enjoyable.”
The twins started with a larger batch of songs before honing them down to the final dozen that appear on the album.
“As we started playing through them and trying to learn them, it became pretty obvious the ones that sounded good and worked and the ones that didn't,” Moss said. “And luckily, we didn't really force anything to be on the album. Everything kind of came naturally to us.”
One song they couldn’t quite nail was the classic soul ballad “Tell It Like It Is,” made famous by Aaron Neville. “We couldn’t work it out quite right,” noted Moss. A Fleetwood Mac song from “Rumours” proved similarly vexing. “We love that album so much, but we just couldn't even get under our fingers under that song, let alone start harmonizing it and all that.”
Speaking of harmonies, it’s no secret that singers who are twins have a built-in gift for blending their voices. But the Moss brothers still work at arranging their vocal parts.
“Oh, we put a lot of discussion into them,” Moss said. “We think very deeply about all of the musical moves that we do, especially when we're in the recording session, we work it all out. We do have a default, but we don't usually keep it. We try to do something cool and interesting.”
A prime example is the album’s closing track, Tom Waits’ “Flower’s Grave.”
“That was actually one of the craziest explorations of our vocal harmony on the album because we were harmonizing the instruments and doing pretty wild harmonies over the melody,” Moss said.
While “Cover to Cover” just came out this week, the Moss brothers have already completed their next project.
“We actually have an album that we recorded in the interim that we're pretty excited about,” Moss said. “We’re working on this current album release for now, but then we’ll move to get that one out there. And hopefully, it's gonna be a whole new game-changing thing for us.”
If You Go
Who: The Brother Brothers
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Big Sky Studio, Sweet Land Farm, 9732 NY-96, Trumansburg
Cost: $18, available here