How Was Tomorrow
Rounder Record Corp.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Though you could be forgiven if while browsing through the 'country' section of a record store, the first thoughts that came to mind when stumbling across the Cash Brothers' How Was Tomorrow were of second or third generation relations to the Man in Black turning a quick buck by milking the family legacy, the reality couldn't be further from the truth. No relation to Johnny, the brother duo are veterans of the Canadian rock scene, though they never recorded, or even sang together, until the release of their debut. |
No doubt, the years of experience show, as How Was Tomorrow, sidesteps nearly all of the pitfalls common to debut albums. Whether that finds them behind the wheel, driving to the diversion provided by repeated listens to Springsteen's Nebraska in the song of the same title, or illustrating the drudgery of convenience store employment in Night Shift Guru, the Cash Brothers write songs thankfully free of cliché and heartland posturing.
The seamless blend of brotherly harmonies, not exactly of the Delmore or Louvin variety but still undeniably strong, repeatedly becomes the defining feature of the Cash Brothers sound. The brooding guitar and spiraling solos of Show Me the Reason and the chunky, overt pop hooks of Take a Little Time provide a Tom Petty-esque accessibility that should lure fans away from classic rock radio, while the thundering piano and jagged guitar of Dream Awake is a strong dose of Brit-pop that fits a little awkwardly into the set. While never employing an overwhelming use of guitar bluster, the stripped down acoustic guitar and understated drums of Guitar Strings and Foolish Things showcases an equally effective side of their songwriting. At any rate, the Cash Brothers provide enough variation that few listeners should become bored.
Obviously, this kind of no-frills alternative country has been done to death, but with genre mainstays like Wilco, Son Volt, and the Jayhawks abandoning the cause to pursue more experimental leanings, there is definitely room for a band as talented as the Cash Brothers to carry the banner of country-flavored rock. Smart, sincere, and extraordinarily consistent, How Was Tomorrow proves that the Cash legacy might be sprouting new branches but from a totally different tree.