Single Review: Brothers Osborne - Rum

Brothers Osborne scraped the Top 40 with "Lets Go There" and early signs point to "Rum" being one of 2014's bigger summer songs. Why is it poised to be a hit? We're glad you asked!

Back at the end of 2013, I was following "Let's Go There" by Brothers Osborne quite intently after hearing it for the first time on my local station, WATZ. It seemed like it was off to a good start chart-wise, but after hitting the low 30s, the song somehow slipped into reverse and never kicked into gear again. And it's a shame, too — "Let's Go There" was a punchy, unpolished, bluesy take on the familiar theme of just hopping in the car with the one you love. (Interestingly, it was out at the same time as Leah Turner's equally-excellent but far more polished "Take the Keys," which I also enjoyed the heck out of.) Still, lots of acts can recover quickly after a lead single that barely makes the Top 40, right? So why not the Brothers Osborne?

Just like the previous song, it's an invitation for a lover to join in on the proceedings, but this time, the topical matter is not a road trip, but rather a pleasant summer day. The lyrical content is elevated to originality by way of nonstandard lyrics and phrasing, most notably on the chorus: "Two parts love and a pinch of good weather / And top it all with the sun / And mix it with rum." T.J.'s lead vocals are the same kind of soulfulness previously displayed by James Otto and Brett Eldredge, but not to the point that he feels like an imitator. But the best and most distinctive feature is the production, which is loose, stripped-down, and funky just like its predecessor. Muted acoustic guitar, slide guitar, and a few other instrumental weavings: banjo, Hammond organ, synthesized hand claps, even some whistling are all mixed in without feeling overproduced.

New acts are a gamble as always, particularly those whose sound isn't quite "in" with the mainstream. And the Brothers Osborne are clearly positioned about as far away from the recent "bro country" trend as possible. But with luck, that positioning may work for them instead of against them. I may herald the coming of a bold new hit maker a lot, and I may get it wrong a lot, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, right? So here's hoping that this is the nut that I find. (Boy, is that a weird way to end a review…)