BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
The fact that the Howlin’ Brothers chose Brendan Benson’s Readymade Records as their record label belies the fact their sound is pretty much the polar opposite of the punchy pop motif that Benson himself is known for, both on his own and as Jack White’s band mate in the Raconteurs. By even the broadest definition, Howl is an unequivocal roots recording, an evocative combination of Bluegrass celebration, deep bottom Blues and total allegiance to authentic Americana. Opening track “Big Time” sets the tone, a rousing combination of banjos, fiddles, mandolin and ragtime revelry.
Still, despite the spirited introduction, it quickly morphs into other arenas beyond a basic string band template. The decidedly Band-like designs implied by “Delta Queen,” the boogie and bluster of “Tennessee Blues” and the jaunty, devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky strut of “Just Like You” all affirm their multi–hued sensibilities.
In a day and age where pretense is everywhere, and ostentatious attitudes dominate the charts, the Howlin’ Brothers manage to do the improbable — tow tradition while also offering a reassuring change of pace.
DOWNLOAD: “Delta Queen,” “Big Time,” “Just Like You”