The Bacon Brothers “Ballad of the Brothers”

Forty Below Records, 2024

Brothers Michael and Kevin Bacon – film and TV composer and Hollywood actor in their other creative lives – produce a compelling mix of songs in their twelfth release.

Artwork for Bacon Brothers album "Ballad of the Brothers"‘Ballad of the Brothers’ is the twelfth release from brothers Michael and Kevin Bacon, each of whom brings a celebrated independent career to their long-established musical collaboration. Michael Bacon has several hundred musical compositions featured in film and TV, winning an Emmy for ‘The Kennedys’, while brother Kevin has a successful Hollywood acting career ranging from ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ to ‘Frost/Nixon’ and ‘The Darkness’.

The brothers describe their music as ‘forosoco’, a blend of folk, rock, soul and country music, and ‘Ballad of the Brothers’ does not disappoint in the variety in its eleven original songs, which succeed in being simultaneously familiar and fresh.

Opening track ‘Take off this Tattoo’ majors on the rock side of their offering, produced by Kevin Bacon’s son Travis, with a classic country lyric but a full-on rock sound with big electric fiddle solo tying the song back into the genre, telling We walked into that place together / To put a promise in a needle that would last forever/ And I remember thinking this might hurt/ But that needle ain’t got nothin’ on loving her.”

The brothers grew up in Philadelphia, listening to Philly soul bands as well as 1970’s singer/songwriters and classic rock, and album closer ‘Live with the Lie’, recorded live in the studio with their touring band has a strong soul vibe in 6:8 time, with a fine sax solo, and matching lyrical theme I walk in the rain and I’m wondering why/ I live with the pain, baby/ You live with the lie”. ‘Put Your Hand Up’ continues the soul vibe, up-tempo and joyous with a Motown feel with brass and driving beat.

‘Dreams of San Joaquin’, credited to Jack Wesley Routh and Randy L Sharp, is a sensitive ballad on the theme of the hard realities of life as a migrant with delightful vocal harmoniesEach morning as the trucks roll in the lucky few climb on/ The rest of us are left to wonder where the dream has gone/ Where the dream has gone/ They say the Sierras melt with the rain/ And race through the valley like blood through the vein/ Turning the lowland from golden to green/ To harvest forever our dreams of the San Joaquin”.

Vocal harmonies are a charming feature too of ‘Let That be Enough’ which takes on a Mamas and Papas or Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ era sound as it builds, and mid-tempo rocker ‘We Belong’ with its soaring chorus.  Further stretching the eclectic mix are ‘Freestanding’, composed by Michael Bacon, a jazzy instrumental with harmonica,  ‘Old Bronco’, a chilled number  likening an ageing body to the much loved old truck, and the title track, a road trip story as Two east coast brothers hit the road in an Edsel station wagon/ They flipped a coin and they headed west to a random destination/ If they saw this great big world, they’d get their lives on track/ Those city slickers never knew they wouldn’t be coming back.”

This is a very fine and varied collection from two talented brothers, an invitation to explore their back catalogue for sure.


About David Jarman 117 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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