Check out ‘Sometimes, Brothers’, the new single from The Pinkerton Raid, the solo project of North Carolina’s Jesse James DeConto. The song begins with singer and songwriter DeConto playing alone on abandoned railway tracks, a fitting location for a song about people finding their way and the distance that grows between them. Visually, the way the bandmates walk out of the forest one by one to join together is really effective. Initially, it’s just DeConto’s voice and guitar and it’s plaintive, tuneful and could be a great song played out just like this. However, the subtle addition of extra instrumentation – trumpet, keys, percussion and upright bass – adds depth and texture and gives DeConto the foundation from which his vocal can soar with emotion. ‘Sometimes, Brothers’ grows and the backing vocals turn the song into a sing-along by the end.
It’s an earnest song, written for loved ones who need the space to make their own mistakes. DeConto explains: “The song reflects this universal experience where we want to stop somebody we love from doing something they’re gonna regret, and yet we feel totally helpless. We watch people we love get into romantic relationships, and a lot of the time, it’s clearly not good for them. Everybody knows it. Even they know it. But if you try to intervene, it just makes things worse. So you sit back, watch and hope that they get themselves out before too much damage is done.”
The song was originally written for the 2018 album ‘Where the Wildest Spirits Fly’ but back then the feel of the song was very different: minor keys changes and a driving rhythm turned it into a darker piece. Over time, and with the encouragement of producer David Wimbish, it’s been transformed into a more reflective piece. DeConto continues: “When the song came into existence, I think I was feeling a lot more anger than what came out in the final recording. The characters in it are composites of different people I love, and I’d been watching them suffer because people in their lives were being reckless and hurting them. Instead of indignation, I leaned into sadness. Going in this more reserved direction, melody became so important. So I spent a lot of time crafting the vocal melody, and looking for ways to emphasise it in the arrangement. The song is simple, but it’s got some brass and a nice dynamic build toward the end. It really blooms.” It does indeed bloom. And the gentler vibe, full of resignation rather than anger, works well with the song’s theme. Enjoy.