The Abrams “The Abrams” (Warner Music Canada, 2016)

This is the major label debut EP from Canadian brothers John and James Abrams who, despite only being just into their twenties, already carry an impressive CV, having the honour of being the youngest Canadians to appear at the Grand Ole Opry and having already put out a couple of albums under their own auspices. Now they’ve been picked up by a major label (Warner Music Canada) and have their first EP produced by Gavin Brown, who has also produced for such bands as The Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies. 

The Abrams cite their influences as classic country duos like the Louvin Brothers and Jim & Jesse – but this production is a country mile away from that sound. Producer Brown has said that he wanted to introduce them to a wider audience – so what we have are really a series of heavily produced country/pop songs with a bit of banjo in the background as a nod to their roots. Interesting that the brothers are Canadian because this reviewer was reminded on a number of occasions of the sound of Bryan Adams – and sadly it was Bryan, not Ryan!

On the positive side there are some very good songs here – in fact, all six songs are basically good compositions and the Abrams have, somewhere in the mix, that classic sibling duo sound – the voices really complement each other. But the production is heavily pop influenced and, with a drum sound that’s straight out of the 90s (and probably where the Bryan Adams reference comes from), the production is really too big for the songs. Final track Spend Your Life With Me sounds like Mumford & Sons before they abandoned their banjo thrash!

The Abrams are clearly a class act. They write good songs and deliver them well and it’s understandable that, as a young duo, the record company will want to push them in a more commercial direction; hopefully the songs will continue to shine through and the Abrams brothers will be able to stay true to their influences. They’ll be touring the UK in the summer and it will be interesting to hear how they interpret these songs on the live stage.

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