Thee Holy Brothers “My Name is Sparkle” (Regional Records 2020)

Thee Holy Brothers are comprised of two friends: Marvin Etzioni and singer/multi-instrumentalist Willie Aron who have a formidable musical history outside of this band.  They met in a record shop in Los Angeles as teenagers and followed their own musical paths (with Etzioni being part of Lone Justice and Aron being a founder of the band The Balancing Act).   Etzioni is a Grammy award-winning producer and Aron creating award-winning film and TV scores and working as a session musician/producer with Victoria Williams and Ricki Lee Jones along with other talented musicians. The roots of their debut album lie in a comment made by their Rabbi referring to them as The Holy Brothers and with a small change to Thee Holy Brothers the duo was born.  Thee Holy Brothers were also offered the blessing of the one and only Leonard Cohen who saw an early performance and praised their collaboration. 

‘My Name is Sparkle’ is a song cycle which they developed playing in the clubs in Los Angeles.  They describe the journey of the androgynous character Sparkle who makes a spiritual journey to Jerusalem only to find Elvis there.  The song themes focus on the trials and tribulations faced by Sparkle whilst making this journey.  The quest for spiritual enlightenment is a difficult one with Sparkle at one point considering suicide but at the end of the album coming to peace with his place in the world.  The idea of giving yourself up to God and leaving your fate in his hands is central to the album. This is reflected in the lyrics to some of the songs such as on “Let the Great World Spin” – a jazzy rag of song when they proclaim “let the sweet rain pour down, a new day is here now, as long as we are here now let the great world spin now.” Or on the title track where Sparkle looking for God wondering where God can be found in many places searching with all his “heart will allow.”

‘My Name is Sparkle‘ was due to be released a few years ago but was put on hold due to family bereavements and illnesses.  The combined voices of Etzioni and Aron are the strong point of the album as their harmonies blend well together alongside the hippy generally happy vibe throughout the album. Thee Holy Brothers would likely be an interesting band to see live and the quality of the musicianship is notable.  It is evident that this is a labour of love in releasing this but unfortunately, the material does not reach the level that it could given the talents of the musicians involved.  There is more to come from Thee Holy Brothers with further albums planned for release in 2021 and beyond and their own individual work to enjoy.

Thee Holy Brothers reach for something divine in their collaboration

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